Portlanders need to be able to work and live where their jobs are and we need to provide housing for ALL incomes. Unfortunately, 66% of our public housing units have been eliminated since 1997. Our city is providing diminishing housing for our lowest income residents. We need to add more housing and more low-cost housing choices to end this downward spiral. Three options that I will fight for immediately while I dive into finding a solution to address the massive loss of public housing are:
DEEPLY Affordable Housing
A recent high school graduate or an adult with income from social security or disability payments should be able work and/or live in Portland. The solution is Single Room Occupancy (SRO) cohousing or micro units. Over the past 40 years we have allowed thousands of these units to disappear, many through gentrification. These units are small single room apartments that may share a bathroom and kitchen with several other renter’s or have a small bathroom and kitchen in the room. There are many variations and price points that enable this type of housing to be deeply affordable. Let’s modernize this solid, tried and true approach in order to add much needed inventory to our market quickly and cost effectively. Using the SRO / micro unit model, we can deliver truly affordable housing at HALF the $1168 average cost of a studio apartment in the Portland area. This type of housing can get within swinging distance of breaking even WITHOUT subsidized rent and remain affordable to someone earning minimum wage. SRO’s and micro units are part of the solution to providing housing for all communities and stations of life.
Affordable New Homes – The Missing Middle
Portland can partner with builders to lower the cost of new housing. For example, it costs $40,000 in building fees and permits (system development charges) for a $450,000 median priced family residence. Building two homes on the same lot, Portland doubles the fees and permits to $80,000. One lot, two homes and the city charges twice as much. We could reduce these fees and bring affordable home ownership to more people while focusing on maintaining the character of the neighborhoods. Funding our infrastructure is critical to growing our city responsibly but rethinking our charges and encouraging responsible in-fill is of equal concern.
Our Homes / Our Families / Our Communities
Existing homes are the SINGLE largest supply of housing we have. While they are called SINGLE family residences, we need to define them more as FAMILY RESIDENCES. Let’s reTHINK inside the box. These homes can be used for single family, multi-generation and multi-family. We as a community and city together need to find ways to better support this valuable housing resource. As someone who grew up comfortably in a two-room house with seven people, I know it can work and make our communities and families stronger.