(Expensive) affordable housing! Homelessness throwdown!
AS THE CITY'S housing crisis worsens, the Portland Housing Bureau is unleashing a fire hose of public money to build new, cheap housing.
The bureau announced last week it had awarded a whopping $47 million for eight projects—two of which are renovations of existing buildings—that will result in 585 new affordable units and preserve 255 more (most of them priced for people making 60 percent of the city's median family income).
It's a lot of money and a lot of new units—but it still leaves Portland woefully behind what's necessary. Estimates suggest the city needs to add 24,000 affordable units to keep up with demand in coming years.
That housing won't be cheap, if these projects are any indication. Given their total estimated cost, the city and other funding entities are paying, on average, more than $200,000 per unit (including market-rate housing). DIRK VANDERHART
THE RHETORICAL FIGHT over how to handle homelessness in Portland is moving from mudslinging billboards to attorney billing statements.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the Portland Business Alliance, Cartlandia food cart pod, Central Eastside Industrial Council, and a number of other organizations have sought an end to Mayor Charlie Hales' months-old policy of tolerating homeless camping.
The suit, which has its own dedicated PR person, accuses Hales of enacting "misguided" and "irrational" rules that do nothing to ease the city's problems. It argues the policies run afoul of state law, and that Hales had no authority to enact them in the first place.
The court fight that ensues will likely have an enormous and long-term impact on how Portland deals with its homelessness crisis. DVH