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Bill Would Increase Funding to Fight OR's Affordable-Housing Crisis

Between 2015 and 2017, homelessness increased six percent in Oregon. (Oregon Food Bank)
Between 2015 and 2017, homelessness increased six percent in Oregon. (Oregon Food Bank)
March 2, 2018

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon legislators are considering a way to increase funds for affordable housing efforts around the state.

House Bill 4007 would increase the document recording fee when a person buys a home from $20 to $60, to generate about $90 million over two years. The new funds would add money to programs that help prevent homelessness, build affordable housing, and provide home ownership assistance.

It would also create a program to help first time buyers save for a home.

Allison McIntosh, deputy director for policy and communications with Neighborhood Partnerships, a group that coordinates the Oregon Housing Alliance, says there is dire need for affordable housing all over the state.

"In the coast and in Hood River, we hear stories about teachers sleeping in their vans, or driving over the passes to get to work and commuting long distances, just to find an affordable home,” she says. “In southern Oregon, in the Medford area, the vacancy rate is less than one percent, so home prices are getting more and more expensive."

One out of every four dollars in the legislation would be dedicated to helping veterans with housing needs.

Opponents of the bill say increasing the recording fee means too few people would carry the financial burden. The bill is now is in the Joint Committee On Ways and Means.

Oregon Food Bank is supporting the bill because of the close connection between hunger and the ability to find an affordable home. Anneliese Kohler, public policy advocate with Oregon Food Bank, says more and more people are coming to food pantries and meal sites with concerns about the rising cost of housing.

"They talk about housing issues – so, they talk about rent being too high, about being scared about being evicted, about being unable to find a place to live,” says Kohler. “And so, it's really become one of the driving forces behind why people need emergency food."

A 2017 count by the state found homelessness in Oregon had increased 6 percent since 2015.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR