Portland tees up $75 million for affordable housing projects
Bond-funded affordable housing projects are moving forward as the region struggles with a homeless crisis fueled by a shortage of all kinds of homes.
The Portland Housing Bureau announced Wednesday, March 20, that it will make up to $75 million available for projects matched by private funds in April. The city's funds will come from the $258 million affordable housing bond approved by Portland voters at the November 2016 general election.
Project proposals will be due in June with award announcements anticipated by early September.
The projects will be the first allowed under an amendment to the Oregon Constitution approved by voters at the November 2018 general election. It allows businesses and nonprofit organization to partner on bond-funded affordable housing projects.
One of the projects will be the renovation of the Joyce Hotel, which was purchased by the bureau in 2016. The 69-unit single room occupancy hotel will be converted to supportive housing, where social services are provided to residents to help keep them housed.
Six projects totaling more than 600 units have been purchased or are being planned with bond funds so far. They include a new 150-unit project to be built on city-owned land at Southeast 30th Avenue and Powell Boulevard, which Holst Architecture has been selected to design.
In the meantime, one of the first projects funded by Metro's affordable housing bond will be the Mary Ann apartments near downtown Beaverton. Metro voters approved the $653 million bond at the November 2018 general election, the same election where statewide voters approved the constitutional amendment.
Recent resolutions approved by the Metro Council and Beaverton City Council commit $3 million in bond funds for the 54-unit project at First Street and Main Avenue. The $20 million project will be developed by REACH, a nonprofit housing organization.
Although ground is not expected to be broken on the project for another year, the funding commitment is necessary because REACH is about to submit its bid for a federal low-income housing tax credit for it. The tax credit is expected to pay $11.4 million, slightly more than half the cost of the project.
The project is named in honor of Mary Ann Spencer Watts, who according to the Beaverton Historical Society was Beaverton's first teacher, and whose classroom was in a cabin nearby. When completed, apartments will be made available to households with between 30 and 59 percent of the area median income.
"Every one of those doors that open is really important for somebody," said Carmela Bowns, a member of the city's Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. "It's the type of development that provides a lot of benefits to Beaverton and community members."
The other eligible funding partners in the region are finalizing development strategies to qualify for Metro bond funds.
They are the housing authorities in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, and the cities of Portland, Gresham and Hillsboro.
Portland is expected to receive the largest share, 38 percent, because it has the most assessed value within the Metro boundaries. You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue at www.tinyurl.com/y57wqluo.
Peter Wong contributed to this story.