Portland city commissioners are considering a proposal that would require builders to create affordable housing, a move that comes as the city faces a housing crisis and after state lawmakers earlier this year passed a bill allowing cities to create these mandates.
The meeting was packed Tuesday morning, with even the upstairs balcony nearly at capacity. Many of the hundreds of people in attendance held signs that said “Rent Freeze Now,” although that tactic not the proposal on the table.
Instead, the plan would require new developments with more than 20 units to make at least 20 percent of the units affordable to those earning no more than 80 percent of the city’s median family income.
Developers could also make ten percent of units affordable to those earning less than 60 percent of the median income.
There would be other options as well, including plans where developers could pay a special fee instead of offering affordable units or dedicating other existing units at a different location as affordable.
Studies done for the city found that the rule would increase Portland’s supply of affordable housing, but it could also be a crippling added cost to developers if the mandate isn’t offset by other incentives.
Dozens of people and groups spoke before commissioners in support of the proposal.
Also noteworthy from the meeting is that the commission is expected to authorize $51 million Wednesday to be spent on the Ellington Apartment affordable housing project in northeast Portland.
A recent Oregon Office of Economic Analysis study found that Portland is dealing with a shortage of about 23,000 units of housing.
Commissioners are expected to vote on the affordable housing proposal next week.
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