This week: Oregon’s Congressional representative Earl Blumenauer issues a call for federal action to address the housing crisis; CityLab reports that housing construction in all major US metros stalled out in the last decade; California passes statewide rent control.
Monday, September 16, 2019
Thursday, September 12, 2019
The President of the National Multifamily Housing Council, Doug Bibby, issued the following statement in response:
"The most effective way to fix California’s housing crisis is by building more housing across a range of price points and AB-1482 makes that harder to do. After Californians overwhelmingly rejected the rent control ballot initiative less than a year ago, lawmakers today went against their constituents by passing a measure that will discourage investment, shrink the availability of affordable housing that already exists and squeeze even more people struggling in the housing market. This makes the problem worse. The housing affordability crisis is real, real Americans are being harmed by it every day and we need real solutions – not restrictive policies that we know don’t work.”
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
The report indicates that 328,000 new apartment homes are needed each year to meet demand, but producing that housing requires new approaches to development, more incentives, and fewer restrictions.
Recent apartment construction has contributed more than $150 billion to the national economy and created 752,000 jobs.
Areas with high to moderate barriers to new apartments include Seattle and Portland.
- All four sectors of the industry have posted very strong growth, punctuated by the construction industry ramping up to meet the unprecedented demand for apartments this cycle – reaching a height of 346,900 completions in 2017, up from 129,900 in 2011.
- Previous research by Hoyt Advisory Services found that we need to build an average of 328,000 apartments per year at a variety of price points to meet existing demand, which would bring continued economic activity. This number of multifamily completions has only been surpassed twice since 1989.
- Hoyt research also found that a significant portion of the existing apartment stock will need to be renovated in the coming years, boosting spending in the renovation and repair sector.
- The combined contribution of apartment construction, operations, renovation, and resident spending equals $3.4 trillion per year, or more than $9.3 billion daily.
Monday, September 9, 2019
Despite Evidence That It Improves Returns, Commercial Real Estate Industry Lags on Diversity and Inclusion
This week: King County Washington plans to divert nearly $100 million to affordable housing over the next 20 years without raising taxes; Sacramento, California passes a rent control measure; and almost two-thirds of Portland residents say they have no input into city decisions that are important to them.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
This week: a survey of Portland residents find that 61% do not feel like they have a say in city decisions that are important to them; a new law in Washington could allow King County to divert nearly $100 million to affordable housing projects over the next 20 years without raising taxes; and Portland and Seattle are in the top 10 among cities with the highest shares of residents with college or professional degrees.
Friday, August 30, 2019
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Monday, August 26, 2019
This week: while more than 70 percent of economists think a recession will begin in the next two years, its predicted to have less impact on housing; insurers are dropping customers in areas of the west more prone to wildfires--leaving state insurance plans as the only option; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to implement a rule this fall that would make it harder to bring certain discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act.
Monday, August 19, 2019
This week: Representatives of landlord and tenant groups question the Portland Rental Services Office's use of funds generated by the new rental services fee to pay OneApp Oregon for renter data; economic indicators are causing investors to worry about a potential recession; a report from the Terner Center for Housing finds that impact fees are negatively impacting housing construction in California.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Funding of OneApp Oregon through Rental Services Fee Receives Criticism from Landlord and Tenant Groups
Monday, August 12, 2019
This week: The Portland City Council approved an annual $60 per unit fee on rental housing; Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno released a report on end-of-budget-cycle spending among state agencies, issuing 16 recommendations to improve transparency in state budgets; the National League of Cities' Housing Taskforce is calling on cities to work together to collect and share data in order to take on the nationwide housing shortage.
Thursday, August 8, 2019
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
The city council passed the fee over the objections of landlords, who testified a week earlier that the charge was a tax that would be passed on to renters since all the services it supports were for renters. Read more.
HFO Partner Greg Frick discusses the challenges of recruiting businesses to Portland in the current environment with Larry Holt, Vice President for Greater Portland, Inc. Greater Portland Inc. provides support and services to companies seeking to relocate or expand in the Portland metro area.
Monday, August 5, 2019
Despite Ongoing Construction, Seattle and Portland's Rental Vacancy Rates Remain Among Nation's Lowest
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that second-quarter 2019 rental vacancy rate for the Portland/ Vancouver/ Hillsboro metro area was 4.1%, a drop of 0.7% from one year earlier.
Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue's metro area vacancy rate was listed at 3.3%, down 0.8% from a year ago.
The nation's lowest rental vacancy rates, by metro area:
- Cleveland, OH - 1.5%
- San Jose, CA - 2.0%
- Columbus, OH - 2.2%
- Boston - 2.9%
- Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue - 3.3%
- Akron - 3.6%
- Riverside, CA 3.7%
- North Port, FL - 3.9%
- Rochester, NY 4.0%
- Portland/Vancouver/Hillsboro - 4.1%
- Denver - 4.4%
- Salt Lake - 4.4%
- L.A. 4.5%
The average national rental vacancy rate for Q2 2019 was 6.8 percent for multifamily dwellings of five or more units -- no change from one year earlier, despite continuous delivery of multifamily units throughout the national market.
Year-over-year vacancy rates in the Western U.S. decreased, from 5.1% to 4.8%.
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U.S. Homeownership Rate Falls
After falling to a 26-year low in 2016, the homeownership rate has rebounded but fell slightly over the past year to 64.1%. Homeownership in the West has also decreased from 59.7% in Q2 2018 to 59.3% in June 2019.
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This week: An Investigation by The Oregonian uncovers plans to use funds from the recently passed clean energy tax to purchase and rehab affordable housing; the New York Times questions why developers are seen as the bad guys rather than as central to a solution in the fight for more housing.
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Callahan explained to the Commissioners that the fee would be used to fund the Rental Services Office. Among the office's plans for the next few years are a mediation services pilot, expanded education and training services, and enhanced data collection. The office intends to provide more streamlined support for renters.
Commissioner Fritz asked for clarification on the rules for exemption from the fee - she inquired as to whether the Housing Bureau considered tying the fee to the rent a unit charges rather than to whether it is a specifically regulated affordable unit. According to Callahan, there is no way to know what market rents are without the data collection system the city hopes to set up within the next few years. Fritz also wanted to know if mobile home parks, where rents are some of the lowest in the city, would be exempted. Matthew Tschabold, equity manager of the Housing Bureau, confirmed that mobile home parks are considered rental dwellings and would not be exempt from this fee.
Tschabold indicated that the "stick" to get landlords to comply with the registration system is a civil penalty that under local law can be up to $500. While he does not believe that a $500 fee would be imposed for landlords who fail to pay a $60 fine, he acknowledged there could be be some cases where a person may have a number of outstanding fees, in which case a higher fine might be warranted. Commissioner Fish suggested that the Council and Housing Department iron out an appropriate penalty for noncompliance.
During the public testimony portion of the hearing, twelve people spoke - six in favor, and six against. The first person to speak was a landlord who explained that the cost would likely end up getting passed to renters. He also read from an email between a friend of his and an unnamed member of City Council, in which the City Council member agreed that they too would be inclined to raise rents due to the fee. Commissioner Fish interrupted him for a polite back and forth in which the Commissioner asked that if any of his words or actions worked to "demonize" landlords, he would like to be directly called out on it. Commissioner Eudaly agreed that it is not her intent to demonize landlords. The broker and apartment owner who testified directly after pointed out that 90% of the Rental Services Office's activities support tenants, but the cost burden is being pushed on to landlords.
Other property owners who testified against the fee pointed out that while on its own would not be unreasonable, in conjunction with other legislation recently passed at the local and state level it represents a last straw. Landlords are already spending money on legal advice in order to implement the new tenant screening and security deposit ordinances, as well as relocation fees required by the city and state. Chris Nguyen of Commerce Properties argued that the confluence of extra costs are reducing funds available for unit maintenance.
For those who testified in favor of the law, it seemed that specific aspects of the proposed registration system will benefit tenants immensely. Nico Serra of Real Choice Initiatives shared their story of trying to find an ADA accessible unit that could accommodate their wheelchair after a bike accident. The Mayor confirmed he is working to put forward a proposal to provide accessibility and price range data as part of the enhanced rental unit registry in the Fall. Serra confirmed that this information would be incredibly beneficial to those who have struggled to find ADA compliant apartment units. Sarah Iannarone, Katrina Holland, and Margot Black all testified in support of the fee, also largely due to the benefits they believe will come from better data collection about rentals in the city.
The ordinance will now go to a second reading before the City Council. A date has not yet been set.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
"Make it easier to build and make it easier to build with increased density to reduce the cost per unit. San Diego’s Mayor, Kevin Faulconer, was very much in tune with this concept. In 2018, he backed an update to the Affordable Housing Density Bonus Program to incentivize developers to increase the production of smaller and more affordable units and backed several code changes to streamline the development process, remove unnecessary barriers to development and increase production.
"This past June, the Mayor proposed to wipe out height limits for apartment and condominium projects built near transit lines. He said the proposal would spur construction of more housing, especially housing for middle-income residents, by allowing taller buildings with smaller sized units and then streamlining the approval process for such projects. Harrumph said the local planning groups! Harrumph said the local NIMBY’s (not in my back yard). Harrumph said the local BANANA’s (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything). Quoting one of my favorite singers, Alanis Morrissette, isn’t it ironic? Isn’t it ironic that many of the same groups leading the charge on rent control are the ones restricting new supply."Read the full piece here.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
According to The Oregonian, the company would rehab the buildings, improve their energy efficiency, then commit to holding rent increases modest for decades while turning profits for investors.
While supporters of the clean energy tax cited energy-saving retrofits as a prime expenditure, "voters were told the money, raised by a 1 percent tax on retail sales by large corporations operating in Portland, would be spent on renewable energy infrastructure, energy efficiency retrofits and green jobs training," according to the paper.
The news story also explores various political ties that include Chloe Eudaly's Chief of Staff, Marshall Runkel. Read more.
The property was owner managed and rents were below market. The asset's upside was attractive to numerous investors and HFO worked with the seller to determine the strongest buyer with the ability to close in a timely manner.
Monday, July 29, 2019
This week: The Portland City Council will have a public hearing at 2 pm Wednesday, July 31 on its plan to charge a $60 per year annual fee on all apartment units; studies continue to list Portland among the top choices for Millennials to call home; and rents in the Seattle market are increasing once again as new units are absorbed and the vacancy rate declines.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Oregon Adopts New Corporate Activity Tax That Appears to Impact Property Managers and Housing Providers
The tax appears to apply to all rents collected by housing providers.
There are some possible deductions and exclusions. Please consult with your CPA or tax attorney for additional information.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Monday, July 22, 2019
HFO has reviewed these changes, and they do not appear to change the substance or intention of the law. Rather, they appear to clarify and reduce confusion by:
1) Clarifying definitions
2) Reducing some paperwork for nonprofits
3) Increasing paperwork for most owners
4) Clarifying processes
5) Clarifying various requirements
The public is invited to testify on the technical changes of the proposed draft which you can view and download here.
Beginning Monday, July 22, 2019, you can submit testimony or feedback on the draft.
Testimony may be submitted via email, fax, letter, or in person at the public hearing (details below).
Written comments or testimony must be received by August 30, 2019 and must include a first and last name to be considered.
- Email your testimony to: RentalServices@portlandoregon.gov
- Fax your testimony to: 503-823-2387
- Mail your testimony to: PHB c/o Mandatory Relocation Assistance Exemption Eligibility and Approval Process, 421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 500 Portland, Oregon 97204
- Testify in person at the public hearing: Thursday, August 8, 2019 from 6 – 8pm at
IRCO – 10301 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97220
[Courtesty of Multifamily NW]
On July 17th the Portland Housing Bureau unveiled a plan to assess a $60 per-unit annual fee on market-rate units to fund the city’s rental housing initiatives.
It’s anticipated that this $60 per-unit fee proposal will be presented to Portland City Council on Wednesday, July 31st.
You're invited to attend the hearing at City Hall on July 31st and testify against the city’s continued pursuit of untested and unfunded policies. This fee will cost the typical 75-unit apartment building $4,500 per year. Portland City Council’s policies continue to drive up the cost of existing housing while showing little to no results in creating affordable housing for everyday Portlanders.
Further details about this proposal will not be confirmed until Friday, July 26th, the last day possible the city is required to publish the following week’s city council agenda and share the proposal language.
Portland anticipates collecting 60% of assessed fees during the first year and has prepared this preliminary budget.
The fee would be used to cover the rental services office and to:
- Provide resources for maintenance costs for an expanded rental registration system
- Adjusted annually to account for inflation or deflation
- Regulated affordable housing at 60% AMI and below will be exempt
HFO urges you to contact your council representatives with your thoughts and concerns. We will forward additional information as it becomes available.
Mayor Ted Wheeler
Commissioner Nick Fish
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
Commissioner Amanda Fritz
This week: a new report finds the Portland metro area's recent addition in the housing supply has slowed rent growth; Oregon mobile home park residents face increased displacement risk; Washington State's department of transportation releases a report outlining a business case for high-speed rail in the region; enactment of the federal tax cut and jobs act has resulted in the loss of more than 15-thousand affordable housing units in California, and tens of thousands more nationwide. Next week: Portland slated to consider $60 per unit annual fee at its July 31 City Council meeting.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
The apartment building was owner managed and rents were below market. HFO utilized its extensive network of investor relationships to secure a buyer with the wherewithal to close quickly on this unique property.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Interest was high for this asset and multiple offers were received. The transaction closed smoothly without any issues.
Monday, July 15, 2019
This week: Home prices drop a bit in Seattle but are still up significantly in the past two years; The Portland City Council weighs gutting the power and influence of its neighborhood groups; Oregon house bill 5006 provides funding to support 2,100 affordable homes throughout the state, and house and senate democrats in the nation’s capital propose legislation that would restrict the ability of public housing providers to evict residents for criminal activity.
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Monday, July 8, 2019
The James Beared Public Market project has been on the drawing boards for over a decade. Proposed and still remains basically in concept form after $250,000 in grant money from the State of Oregon's taxpayers in 2013. The project has received nearly $1 million in taxpayer funding that includes $312,000 from the City of Portland.
Read more in this week's Oregonian.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Historical operations at the property were impacted by the renovations and a lack of management oversight. Vacancies were above market for the submarket and ongoing renovations limited the ability to lease apartments. HFO targeted investors with portfolios on the west side of the metro area, helping those potential buyers understand the management upside opportunity.
Monday, July 1, 2019
This week: Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released its State of the Nation's Housing Report for 2019; companies in the Portland and Seattle Metro areas continue to announce positive hiring news; President Trump issued an executive order that creates a commission tasked with recommending ways to cut regulations in the housing market.
UPDATE: Oregon Republicans returned to the senate and passed HB 2001 late Sunday night. It heads to Governor Brown's desk for a vote.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
This week: the Portland City Council approved Commissioner Eudaly's tenant screening and security deposit ordinances with a 3-1 vote; proposed changes to the US census could result in an undercount of over 4 million residents nationwide, including over 75,000 people in Washington and over 35,000 people in Oregon; Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination are facing pressure from voters to address housing affordability.
In the summer of 2018, a large portion of the siding was replaced and repainted, delaying full marketing of the property. The property was managed for occupancy and rents trailed the market. HFO was key in positioning the property against its historical operations with low rents and high expenses for a successful sale.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
A final adopted version will be available relatively soon after the meeting.
The asset was taken to market after completion and management companies were switched during lease-up, which resulted in limited historical operations and a longer timeline to full occupancy.
HFO successfully found a buyer seeking new product that was able to offset the impact of the property's limited financials.
Monday, June 17, 2019
This week: The Portland City Council appears poised to adopt a proposed renter screening ordinance that some argue will only serve to increase homelessness; Oregon House Bill 2001 moved forward in the state legislature, the bill would legalize duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in single-family neighborhoods in all cities with more than 25,000 residents; and a new report finds that tech workers from some of the most expensive cities on the West Coast are viewing Portland as a more affordable alternative.
For decades, many landlords and banks have held firm to the standard that a person should not rent a unit or buy a home that is more than 30% of gross income. The new standard set by Portland would be 50% of gross income. For people living paycheck to paycheck, any bump in the road in terms of a medical emergency, job loss or other emergency situation could lead to there not being enough savings to avoid eviction. Evictions follow a renter around for three years, which will make re-renting even more difficult for someone in that situation.
Read the op-ed piece here.
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
“The metro added 27,500 positions in 2018, a 2.4% year-over-year employment growth rate. The construction boom taking place in the metro is supported by the office sector, which has more than 2.4 million square feet of space under construction,” the Yardi Matrix report says.
“With more than 9,320 units underway and some 6,900 units expected to be delivered this year, there are major concerns about oversupply, but a strong occupancy rate is indicating that there is a rapid absorption of new deliveries and demand for housing outpaces supply. The high occupancy rate and steady rent growth are drawing investors to the metro.
“With demand high, we expect rents to rise 1.9% in 2019,” the report says.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
This apartment building was owner-managed and rents were significantly below market. Utilizing our extensive network of investor relationships, HFO secured a buyer with the wherewithal to close on this unique property.
Monday, June 10, 2019
A growing number of families – at all income levels – are working to find housing they can afford. As such, communities across the U.S. are seeking solutions to solve our nation’s housing crisis. To help meet this demand, federal, state and local governments must come together to reduce barriers to developing more rental housing.
"There isn’t a universal solution to solving the affordability problem," said Doug Bibby, NMHC President. "It requires a multi-faceted approach and I’m thrilled our Housing Affordability Toolkit will help communities, lawmakers and industry stakeholders nationwide explore various approaches."
Developed in partnership with HR&A Advisors, the Housing Affordability Toolkit is divided into six sections and each section delves into a specific component of addressing the affordability challenge. The Toolkit also includes case studies of eight different markets around the country to paint a diverse geographic and economic picture of how affordability challenges can differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Each part can stand alone or be combined with others to bolster the recommendations within the Housing Affordability Toolkit to guide housing affordability discussions.
To download the Toolkit, visit housingtoolkit.nmhc.org.
Final Vote Expected Wednesday at 10:30 am on Portland's Proposed Tenant Screening, Security Deposit Ordinances
Meanwhile, Willamette Week obtained a copy of the City Attorney's analysis of the ordinance, which determined that the possibility of the ordinance being invalidated in court as "low to moderate." Read that story.
This week: Portland’s tenant screening ordinance moves forward to a possible vote by city council this Wednesday at 10:30 am at City Hall; Portland-area developers are bypass the City’s inclusionary housing requirements by constructing assets with fewer than 20 units, and a study finds that the migration of younger people into cities is more than a passing trend.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Units include a full-sized washer/dryer set, vaulted ceilings plus decks in select units. The property is within walking distance of Portland State University and the city's financial and cultural districts.
HFO was able to demonstrate management upside and long-term demand for this rare townhome product. The asset was purchased by an exchange buyer from California actively seeking to build a portfolio of properties throughout metro Portland.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
07/25/2019 - Update: Gov. Brown signed the bill into law on June 6th and it will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Monday, June 3, 2019
This week: The City of Portland renter and tenant security deposit ordinances progress to a second reading on June 12th; Seattle rent rates are back on the rise, and the City of Tacoma is in the news as the nation’s hottest housing market.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Portland Unreinforced Masonry Owners Prevail in Fight for Preliminary Injunction Against City of Portland
In this case, Plaintiffs readily satisfy the elements for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claim on the placard and tenant notification provisions of the Ordinance. The court finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated they likely will suffer ineparable harm if the Ordinance takes effect. Plaintiffs have demonstrated they will be injured beginning June 1, 2019, when they are required to provide a potentially factually inaccurate and misleading statement to prospective tenants in their lease applications. Harris, 772 F.3d at 583 ("[A] colorable First Amendment claim is ineparable injury sufficient to merit the grant of [preliminary injunctive] relief.") Mr. McMonies and Mr. Beardsley testified that if the Ordinance goes into effect, they will be forced to provide false, or at least inaccurate and misleading, information to prospective tenants that their buildings are umeinforced when their buildings have undertaken seismic upgrades. See Oregon v. Azar, Case No. 6:19-cv-00317-MC, 2019 WL 1897475, at 15-16 (D. Or. Apr. 29, 2019) (discussing that plaintiffs demonstrated ineparable injury because of massive cuts to Title X funding if the final rule went into effect). Defendants' contention that the effort for Plaintiffs to provide the URM disclosure in the lease applications is relatively modest in light of other disclosures already required by law, misses the point. The question for the court is not the severity of the harm, but whether the harm is ineparable. Here, Plaintiffs will be required to speak a government-drafted message that is misleading at best. Washington Post v. McManus, 355 F. Supp. 3d 272, 305-06 (D. Md. Jan. 13, 49 -2019) (granting preliminary injunction on First Amendment grounds). Clearly, this factor weighs in Plaintiffs' favor.Furthermore, the Ordinance CatTies the risk of substantial fines for failing to comply, raising the risk for extraordinary harm. See Harris, 772 F.3d at 583 (finding the risk of criminal penalties for failing to comply with rep01iing requirement weighed in favor of granting preliminary injunction). Thus, the court finds that Plaintiffs are likely to suffer in-eparable harm without injunctive relief because if the Ordinance is permitted to take effect, it will violate Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights.The balance of equities and the public interest also weigh in favor of granting the injunction, Insisting that URM building owners post a placard and inform tenants has not been shown to demonstrably increase awareness of seismic risk or inform the public about how to "drop, cover, and hold on." Requiring URM building owners to display and distribute a factually inaccurate message would permit Defendants to infringe on the speech rights of a handful of P01ilanders while failing to take steps to actually increase seismic awareness for all Portlanders. Thus, the significant public interest in upholding First Amendment principles is acutely on display in this case, and weighs in favor of an injunction. The Ninth Circuit "consistently recognize[s] the significant public interest in upholding free speech principles." Klein v. City of San Clemente, 584 F.3d 1196, 1208 (9th Cir. 2009) (finding "balance of equities and the public interest thus tip sharply in favor of enjoining" where plaintiff likely to succeed on merits of First Amendment claim); Innovation Law Lab v. Nielson, 342 F. Supp. 3d 1067, 1082 (D. Or. 2018) ("[I]t is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a patiy's constitutional rights.") In summary, Plaintiffs have satisfied each of the requirements for a preliminary injunction.Because the court concludes that Plaintiffs have demonstrated colorable First Amendment violations pertaining to the placarding and tenant notification provisions and that a preliminary injunction should issue on that basis, the comi consequently enjoins enforcement of the acknowledgment provision of the Ordinance. The acknowledgment provision requires URM building owners to document their compliance with the placarding and tenant notification provisions on a BDS form. P.C.C. 24.85.65(E). The court is enjoining enforcement of the placard and tenant notification provisions, therefore practically speaking, there is no compliance to acknowledge.Similarly, because Plaintiffs have demonstrated colorable First Amendment violations, the court declines to address Plaintiffs' argument that the Ordinance also violates the Due Process Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment.
HFO focused its marketing efforts on locating a buyer familiar with bricker buildings seeking to acquire a critical mass of units in downtown Portland. The building was sold to a value-add syndicate based in Colorado.
Although built in 1910, The Westfal is not unreinforced masonry construction
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Yglesias summarized Schuetz' key ideas as follows:
- There are two only partially overlapping housing affordability crises in America, one that affects low-income households in all parts of the country and another that affects a larger share of households in a minority of markets (mostly in coastal metro areas) that suffer from an acute shortage of housing.
- To help low-income families, we should make housing assistance an entitlement — like SNAP or Medicaid — that’s available to every family that meets the income eligibility standards.
- We probably shouldn’t tie housing assistance to local housing costs, because high local housing costs reflect housing scarcity, which means extra subsidy will be captured by landlords. Instead, we should tackle the shortage.
- In California, the Northeast Corridor, Greater Seattle, Greater Portland, and, to a lesser extent, Greater Denver and many college towns, there is simply not enough housing being built to meet the demand to live in these areas, creating problems that no amount of subsidy or rent control can really solve.
- Many of these supply-constrained metro areas do in fact feature building booms in select areas — downtown or in gentrifying neighborhoods — but the vast majority of urban and suburban land is generally set aside for single-family homes and has almost no construction happening in it.
- The most socially and economically valuable place to build new housing would be in the most expensive, most affluent neighborhoods and suburban towns — but to make that happen, state governments will have to override local zoning regulations.
- Federal policymakers hoping to incentive more house-building need to look beyond funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which are not a very strong carrot, and consider using transportation money as a lever to influence state and local policy.
Sue Scott is a semi-retired fitness consultant and the owner of 25 rental units in two properties in Portland. She lives in Happy Valley.
by Sue Scott
The city is using legislation and threats of huge penalties, fines, and fees to put the housing crisis on the backs of those who provide housing.
The proposed regulations for tenant screening and security deposits are 40-plus pages of verbiage and mandate huge fines only to rental providers. This will greatly increase risks for landlords. It's not fair.
Worse, the new proposals hit small investors hardest. That's all wrong too. It is the mom-and-pop landlords who are consistently most flexible with tenants. The big out-of-state providers are already here, and evictions are part of best practices for them in protecting their investors and bottom lines.
There are no risks here for the city. It makes the rules and dictates fines. It doesn’t offer to share the risk and gives us little or no respect Senate Bill 608, which imposed statewide rent control and prohibited landlords from ending most leases flew through all public hearings, and its legislative backers accepted no changes. While the proposed screening and security deposit regulations have had some small changes, it seems the policy as a whole is going down this same intractable path, which will only make the market worse for renters.
Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly especially seems to enjoy pitting renters against the "evil" landlords that maintain the homes and safe places renters live in. We are apparently the biggest easy target. As landlords, we do not have enough political power or numbers. The us against them attitude needs to stop. A workable and sustainable solution needs to be a shared solution.
Writers of these regulations should include all sides. Tenants, housing providers (large and small), financial institutions, and non-profits. The changes must result in sustainable housing for our great city.
And what about property rights? The city now says we must accept applicants who may not be able to afford the rent or are felons in our properties.
Felons are not a protected class, like race, gender, religion, families with kids, sexual preferences, service dogs, disabilities, etc. etc. And tenants who are financially vulnerable are a great risk for any landlord.
As property owners, responsible for the debts and expenses related to those properties, we should have protected rights to assess the financial risk we are willing to take. We pay taxes, mortgages, repairs, legal and all other costs. It takes several years to break even on most properties. For most of us, the big financial rewards come only at the end of our careers and are part of our retirement.
There are more equitable, broader-based solutions that the city should consider.