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Affordable Housing Could Get Funding Boost in OR

February 11, 2009

Salem, OR – Fifteen dollars doesn't buy much these days – but advocates for affordable housing in Oregon say it could make a big difference for low-income renters and first-time home buyers. In the legislature, they're asking that document-recording fees in real estate transactions be raised by 15 bucks, with the money going to support affordable housing programs.

Michael Anderson, executive director of the Oregon Opportunity Network, says the programs are already in place – they just never have enough funds to meet the rising demand.

"To compare us to Washington, which is about twice the size, Washington puts in about $168 million every two years for affordable housing – and we put in about $28 million. We're way behind."

Anderson says the growing numbers of homeless families and unemployed Oregonians have lent a new sense of urgency to the idea.

"That fee would generate funds that would be used for emergency rent assistance; to create new affordable housing; and it would work to provide greater opportunities for home ownership, for families who would be qualified for home ownership, but don't have the income to get in."

Anderson notes that the bill is supported by real estate agents, builders and lenders, as well as the nonprofit community. County clerks collect the document-recording fee, and they've said they want a five-percent cut - but Anderson says that would defeat the fee's purpose. Raising the fee to about $40 for a one-page document would generate almost 17 million dollars over two years. A House vote is expected within the next week. A similar bill lost by just three votes last year; backers say the grim economy gives it a better chance of passing this year.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR