Metro is poised to issue $575,000 in grants to support equitable housing in greater Portland, with a final decision expected next month.
The Metro Council was briefed Tuesday on a proposal for its first round of Equitable Housing and Development Grants. The grants come from a small construction tax that helps pay for planning around greater Portland. The council created the new housing grant program in the spring with funds generated by intense development in the region – about $300 in tax is raised on a project that costs $250,000.
An advisory committee recommended seven projects for funding, including equitable housing strategies for transit corridors, anti-displacement strategies in Beaverton, cottage cluster feasibility research in Milwaukie and equitable housing plans in Oregon City and Wilsonville.
Leila Aman, one of the co-chairs of the advisory committee that reviewed the applications, said they were representative of the variety of affordable housing issues being faced by cities around the region.
"Your cities are listening," Aman told the council Tuesday, "and that was reflected in the proposals that we saw."
The grants are aimed at eliminating barriers to development, including zoning changes that could create “missing middle” housing for mid-income residents, evaluation of regulations that could spark more development, and implementation of streamlined permitting for affordable housing projects.
They can also help support pre-development work on potential affordable or mixed-income housing development sites along transit lines and in business districts. That could include environmental, parking and financial analysis and schematic design.
Metro Councilor Sam Chase, who has been pushing for Metro to be more involved in providing equitable housing around greater Portland, said he's excited about how far the region has come in addressing these issues.
"Everybody's got their own unique way going about achieving this strategy," Chase said. "This is a really great process."
One application, a homeless shelter proposal, called Oregon Trail of Hope, was not recommended for funding. That project, which would have used a former marine terminal at Northwest 21st and Front avenues in Portland as a multi-service center for the homeless, appears to be on hold after losing support from the Portland City Council last week.
Metro chief operating officer Martha Bennett, who advanced the committee's recommendations to the Metro Council, said that doesn't mean the homelessness issue is going away.
“Just like other metropolitan areas on the West Coast, we all recognize that homelessness is a major challenge affecting our whole region,” Bennett said. “That’s why I recommend that Metro continue to partner with the City of Portland, Multnomah County and other partners to advance solutions for homelessness, such as reducing barriers to building shelters and temporary housing in appropriate places.”
These are the seven grants Bennett and the committee recommended for funding:
|Equitable Housing Strategy for the Southwest Corridor
|Southwest Corridor Affordable Housing Predevelopment Analysis
|Anti-Displacement Housing Strategy
|Affordable Housing Site Evaluation, Barriers & Solutions
|Cottage Cluster Feasibility Analysis
|Equitable Housing Strategic Plan