The Metro Council unanimously voted Thursday to award $575,000 in grants to support equitable housing in seven communities around greater Portland.
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.
An advisory committee recommended seven projects for funding, including equitable housing strategies for the Southwest Corridor in Portland and Tigard, anti-displacement strategies in Beaverton, cottage cluster feasibility research in Milwaukie and equitable housing plans in Oregon City and Wilsonville.
"The region is stronger when there is available housing in all levels of the market, for all people of the region," said Metro chief operating officer Martha Bennett, in her recommendation to the Metro Council Thursday.
Funding for 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.
Leila Aman, one of the co-chairs of the committee that reviewed grant applications, said the work done through the grant program will help the entire region – not just the cities that are participating in this process.
"We belive many of the outcomes of this work will be transferrable and collectively will help bring the region closer to its goals for affordable housing," Aman said.
In voting yes, Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington said the work will help fill some of the gaps where the private sector isn't providing housing on its own.
"There are a lot of gaps for solutions, and we're doing what we can to work with the private sector to try and address those gaps," Harrington said.
Councilor Sam Chase said the grant program will help many of the region's cities work on addressing growing housing needs.
"The more we can do to bring our resources, information and expertise that we have at the regional level to help the local jurisdictions understand at the local level, that's going to be a positive thing," Chase said.
These are the seven grants the council voted to fund:
||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