Now the city's going to use that money building affordable housing. Mayor Charlie Hales and commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish are putting forward a resolution next week that will direct the City Budget Office to dedicate a baseline $1.2 million to a Housing Investment Fund every year going forward, with that number indexed to inflation. If the city receives more tax money than that in a given year, it'll be transferred into the housing fund as part of the city's twice-yearly budget monitoring.
The resolution notes "the legalization of more short term rentals in certain circumstances may be impacting the availability of long term rental housing," and notes Portland's got "one of the tightest rental markets" in the country. (We looked at Airbnb's effect on the housing market in October.)
This isn't a surprise. When Fish, Saltzman, and Hales called a press conference to address the city's newly-declared housing state of emergency in September, Saltzman promised to push something in this vein. But the resolution—guaranteed to pass, since it's already got the support of at least three-fifths of city council—offers a rare glimpse at how much business short-term rentals are drumming up. That $1.2 million amounts to five percent of revenue services like Airbnb drum up locally.
It's also a move that might give the city's budget staff pause. The office has a history of recommending against putting money into funds that don't have highly defined spending plans—especially with a wide variety of competition for that money.
But at a time when Portland's scrambling to get cheap housing built, a million a year doesn't hurt.