A new database, with affordable housing addresses and expiration dates, set to be unveiled to the public later this month, is designed to help preserve and augment the affordable housing supply in Oregon

JONATHAN HOUSE/PORTLAND TRIBUNE - Michael Buonocore, executive director of Home Forward - Multnomah County's housing authority, checks out the vew from a new affordable housing unit at 105 Burnside in Portland June 5, 2018.The amount of subsidized rental units in the state lags far behind the need for affordable housing, according to a statewide inventory compiled by Oregon Housing and Community Services.

The state has more than 62,000 subsidized housing units for families with 80 percent or less of area median income, according to the Oregon Affordable Housing Inventory.

Yet the need for that housing far exceeds its supply, according to a March study by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

About 530,000 Oregon households struggled to afford housing in 2016, defined as those that spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent or mortgage payments. About 79,500 of those spent 50 percent or more of their income on housing, according to the study.

The completed inventory, expected to be unveiled to the public later this month, is intended to help Oregon Housing and Community Services to preserve existing subsidized housing with expiring affordable housing requirements and to help augment the supply. The inventory also gives policymakers a clearer picture of the need for affordable housing in the state and could help state lawmakers determine amounts of funding for the two-year state budget.

"It's for preservation and tracking the existing inventory around the state," said Ariel Nelson, an OHCS spokeswoman. "We use this data when we are awarding new funding for affordable housing (to private developers). The data point is one that we look at amongst other scoring criteria."

The inventory, with a list of addresses, was completed as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet at the end of January and posted on the agency website. The comprehensive database, with addresses and expiration dates of affordability requirements, will be available to the public on the agency's website by the end of the month. Next year, the agency plans to have the inventory displayed on an interactive map on the website, Nelson said.

The inventory keeps track of local-, state- and federally-subsidized housing, including those funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The housing is available to Oregonians through the local housing authority or community action agency, such as Home Forward in Multnomah County.

Home Forward, the housing authority for that county, has a wait list of 3,000 households for federal Housing Choice Section 8 vouchers, which allows recipients to use the vouchers on market price housing. The wait list consists of about 23,000 households waiting for one of the 39 properties on Home Forward's public housing portfolio, said Tim Collier, Home Forward's communications director. That wait list excludes affordable housing provided by the private sector through affordable housing funding agreements. Each property manager has a separate wait list for that respective property in Multnomah County, Collier said.

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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