Council set to extend state of housing emergency again
The City Council is poised to extend its existing State of Housing and Emergency for two more years this week, despite dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to additional homeless services and affordable housing since the emergency was first declared in October 2015.
The ordinance scheduled to be considered Thursday notes the increased spending, which includes tens of millions of dollars for the Portland-Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services and voter approval of the $258.4 million affordable housing bond at the November 2016 general election.
The ordinance also says the production of housing in Portland is at a 15-year high measured by permits issued, with more than 800 newly affordable units available for occupancy in 2018— the largest number ever produced in a single year.
But the ordinance also notes that "profound income disparities continue to exist despite recent income gains for all types of households." And it says that Portland's housing cost increases have been among the highest in the country in recent years.
The ordinance also says that according to the federally-required Point-in-Time counts, the number of homeless people in Multnomah County increased from 3,801 in 2015 to 4,177 in 2017. Although the most recent count was conducted earlier this year, the findings have not yet been released.
"There continues to be a state of emergency presented for people experiencing homelessness or housing instability throughout Portland, requiring a further extension of the housing emergency" first declared three and one-half years ago and extended twice since then.
Among other things, declaring the emergency allows the city to waive zoning restrictions to speed up the opening of emergency shelters.
You can read the ordinance here.