Friday, December 30, 2016

Portland in 2017: What Comes Next in the Affordable Housing Debate

The Oregonian took a look back at how housing became the central issue for Portland in 2016, and discussed what may be coming in 2017. With rents in the metro area up 30% since 2012 and many workers getting pushed further away from jobs in the city's core, businesses, activists, and lawmakers are all increasingly concerned with the issue of affordability. Margot Black, head of Portland Tenants United, states that more people are becoming emboldened by state lawmakers' calls to end the ban on rent control. Marion Haynes, vice president for government affairs and economic development for the Portland Business Alliance, sees affordable housing as stemming from a supply issue, and suggests that the PBA will not support measures that could restrict housing supply. Tensions between the two groups appear to be building with the next legislative session fast approaching. Read more.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Look Back at Hales' Responses to Homelessness, Housing Affordability

As Mayor Hales' term is coming to an end, the Portland Mercury is taking a look back at how he has dealt with the issues of homelessness and housing affordability over the past few years. Although the Mayor started his tenure with a conservative policy of sweeps and arrests that did not have much effect on the underlying causes of homelessness, he signaled a shift in tone when he declared a housing state of emergency in the Fall of 2015. Many of the programs he launched have been controversial, and there is some debate about how successful he has been at reducing homelessness or improving affordability, but there is no denying that housing has been a defining issue of his administration. Read more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Inclusionary Zoning Approved by Unanimous Vote in Portland

The Portland City Council voted on Wednesday to approve the inclusionary zoning proposal it has put forward in recent weeks.  The policy requires apartment and condo developments with more than 20 units to set aside 20% of units for households making less than 80% median family income (MFI). In 2016, area MFI was $58,650 for a family of 4. During discussions over the past few weeks, economists and developers have expressed concern that this policy will slow development of new units and restrict supply at a time when the city's population continues to grow at a strong pace. Read more.

State of Oregon Continues Strong Population Growth Trend

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the state of Oregon grew by 70,000 people since 2015. At a growth rate of 1.71%, Oregon is the 6th fastest growing state in the nation. The West was the fastest growing region over the past year, with Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona also seeing high levels of growth. Read more.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Portland Sees Strong Job Creation and Rising Incomes, But There Is Still Room for Improvement

EconNW published its sixth "Check-up on the Portland Region's Economic Health" report last week, and found that 169,950 jobs have been created in Portland since the great recession, and earnings are growing at a faster rate than in comparable cities. The report does warn, however, that minorities are not seeing a proportional share of these economic benefits. Furthermore, affordability issues in the city of Portland make the cost of living higher than in the cities in its peer group. The report calls for an increase in the supply of housing, as well as a focus on creating more middle income jobs. Read more.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Increased Construction Beginning to Ease Apartment Affordability

According to a new report put out by Apartment List, median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Portland is down 0.6% from the same time last year. In fact, 55 of the top 100 cities have seen three consecutive months of decreasing rents. Portland still ranks #21 on the list, indicating that rents are still strong in the metro area. Andrew Woo, director of data science for Apartment List, attributes the slowing growth rate for rents in Portland to an increase in supply due to construction activity. He also notes that Portland has more room to grow than other cities such as New York or San Francisco. The study also found that renter income in Portland has increased by 8.7% this year, a much higher rate than the typical 4-6% seen on a national level. Read more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

American Apartment Owners Association Mold Remediation Guide for Landlords

The American Apartment Owners Association recently put together the infographic below for landlords regarding mold remediation as well as mold prevention. While the weather is wet and grey in the Portland metro area, these are great tips to keep in mind!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Decreasing Regulations, Increasing Supply of Market Rate Housing Critical to Affordability

In an opinion piece on Bloomberg View, Stony Brook University professor Noah Smith writes that in order to increase affordability, cities should do away with regulations that decrease density and require developers to build subsidized housing. Smith acknowledges the reality of "induced demand" where building more units could attract more people to a city, but he argues that in established cities like San Francisco this phenomenon is relatively muted. He points to studies done in 1987 and 2005 that suggest housing prices are higher in cities with more restrictions on development. Read more.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New Census Data: 49.5% of Portland Metro Area Renters Are Cost-Burdened

According to new data from the Census Bureau, 37.3% of Portland Metro Area renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing. While that figure is down 2.6% from 2010, the data also shows that cost-burdened renters are being pushed into outlying areas, where there are fewer services for struggling families. Furthermore, 49.5% of renters are cost-burdened, compared with 29.2% of owners. The Portland City Council is likely to take this information into account when they meet to discuss Inclusionary Zoning next week (the original hearing scheduled for December 8th was postponed due to snow). Read more.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Opinion: Providing Enough Benefits to Builders Is Crucial for Inclusionary Zoning to Work

In an opinion in the Oregonian, Dan Bertolet, senior researcher at Sightline Institute, encourages the City of Portland to make sure they are planning to provide enough incentives to builders in their inclusionary zoning plan. He emphasizes that poorly constructed inclusionary zoning requirements exacerbate issues of affordability by discouraging investment in new developments. Decreasing risks to investors and allowing them to make a return are crucial to ensuring that new units will continue to be built. Read more.

Oregon Leadership Summit Attendees Tackle Housing Affordability

At Sunday's Oregon Leadership Summit, a breakout session to discuss housing affordability highlighted the challenges the state is facing when it comes to mitigating costs to homeowners and renters. The Portland Business Journal reported that ECONorthwest Senior Economist Mike Wilkerson was prepared with "stacks of data" showing that Portland has under-built residential units, a fact that has contributed greatly to the affordability crisis. He also pointed out that 90% of economists agree that rent control is not a solution for issues of access and affordability. Read more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Willamette Week Profile of Margot Black, Head of Portland Tenants United

The Willamette Week published a profile of Margot Black this morning, detailing her connection with newly elected Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, as well as her history as a tenant and activist in Portland. It also highlights her successes in shaming landlords and her goal of enacting an immediate rent freeze in Portland. At the end of the article, Black declares her intention to challenge Commissioner Fish in 2018. Read more.

State Audit Finds Oregon Housing and Community Services Suffers from Lack of Communication, Data Management, Written Policies

While it is no secret that rents and home values in Oregon have been rising sharply, a State audit of the Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) department finds that the agency has not been effective at preserving or adding housing units. Despite using an award-winning system for collecting financial data on public housing projects until 2012, currently the data is woefully incomplete and inaccurate. Furthermore, despite state law requiring a housing plan, OHCS has failed to keep track of the need for or supply level of affordable housing. With many cities feeling the effects of a housing crunch and state and local leaders seeking to introduce new rules to solve affordability issues, the results of the audit are not likely to inspire confidence among Oregon residents. Read more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Opinion: Portland Landlord Landon Marsh Discusses Rent Increases

Portland landlord Landon Marsh wrote an editorial opinion for the Rental Housing Journal discussing the action taken against him by Tenants United since he raised rents at his 12-unit apartment building on SE Ash Street a few months ago. He explains that he raised rents to market value after making upgrades to the property that had been requested by tenants, and goes on to discuss the issues faced by smaller operators who make up 80% of the owners of Portland rental properties. Read more.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Rent Control in Berlin Mostly Benefiting Upper Income Households

Economist Joe Cortright has written on the City Commentary blog about a new study that evaluates the effects of rent control in Berlin since it was enacted in 2015. Berlin's rent control system is more complex and nuanced than others that have been put into effect in cities such as New York and San Francisco, but the study finds that the new rules are not working as intended. The rent controlled apartments are seeing rent reductions compared to non-rent controlled units, but the benefits have been greatest for residents of large, expensive apartments.

Read Joe Cortright's article on City Observatory

Read the working paper on rent controls in Berlin

Friday, December 2, 2016

Saltzman Recommends Softening Inclusionary Zoning Requirements for First 2 Years

The Portland Tribune reports that Commissioner Dan Saltzman has responded to requests from LOCUS to ease inclusionary zoning requirements for developers by lowering the required percentage of affordable units until 2019. Previously, developers would have been required to set aside 20% of units for residents making 80% MFI, or 10% of units for residents making 60% MFI. Under the new changes, developers will only be asked to set aside 15% and 8%, respectively, until the law goes into full effect in 2019. Read more.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

ABODO Report Indicates Portland Is Not Growing As Fast As Residents Think

A new study put out by ABODO, a residential research organization, suggests that Portland is not growing as rapidly as is frequently reported. While the number of people moving to the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area equaled 7.28% of the population in 2015, 6.6% of the population actually moved out of the area, resulting in a net gain of only .91%. The report ranks Portland 13th in the country for net migration. Read more.