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Affordable Housing Proposal

Background 

When my partner Jenny and I moved to Michigan in 2006, we were 23, and we had very little savings. Jenny was accepted into graduate school at Michigan State but decided to defer a year to get in-state tuition. We moved from Oregon to Michigan to follow her dreams, but neither of us had a job there yet.

We applied for subsidized housing to offset the cost of our apartment. That subsidy helped us get on our feet. A few months later Jenny was working as a dental assistant and I landed a job teaching high school social studies. We moved out of our apartment the next summer when our lease was up. I have seen the importance of housing assistance firsthand, and know what a tremendous difference it can make to a family. 

My Values

Housing is a human right. Everyone deserves to have safe housing, that they can afford.

A fundamental part of the problem with our housing system is that Oregon’s population has grown rapidly, and our supply of affordable housing has not kept up. We have a huge supply problem. Oregon has only 28 affordable units for every 100 ‘extremely low-income renter households.’ This is one of the lowest ratios in the country. See more here.

People should have equitable access to housing and loans regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, ability status, or gender. 

No cause evictions are unjust.

Housing policy is environmental policy. If people cannot afford to live near where they work, our environment is harmed.

Housing policy is educational policy. If we do not have inclusionary zoning, socio-economic and racial integration in our housing policy, we will have segregated schools. 

Desegregating our schools and our neighborhoods is a high priority.

The government should provide financial assistance to those at risk of becoming houseless. 

A housing first approach ends the cycle of houselessness.

Oregon must increase the density of housing and build up rather than building out.

Strong Urban Growth Boundaries should be instituted and maintained in all large metropolitan areas.  

Tangible Policy Changes 

Increase the availability and number of tenant-based vouchers. 

End no cause evictions. 

Lower property taxes, which will lower the price of owning an apartment complex and lower the cost of homeownership. However, we must make up for this loss of revenue by creating a more progressive and equitable personal income and business tax system. Our state is over reliant on property taxes, which drives up the cost of housing and creates an inequitable system.   

Provide financial incentives for developers to build affordable housing. 

Increase the homestead property tax exemption for primary residents. Oregon currently has a homestead property tax exemption of $40,000, which reduces the value of a home for an assessment of property taxes by $40,000. This is very low compared to other states, by comparison, Washington has a homestead property tax exemption of $125,000.

Streamline the permitting process for affordable housing. Safety standards need to be maintained, but there are ways to improve the approval process to shorten the wait for permitting.

Delay when system development charges (SDC) are paid until the units fill up rather than asking developers to front this money. Having this due on the front end drives up costs as the developers pay interest on the SDC. 

Limit the mortgage interest deduction to only an individual’s first home, not allowing it to be used on second, third, and fourth homes, etc. This will create a more equitable system, as folks who can afford multiple homes should not be able to use this deduction multiple times.