Life in Portland Blog

Field Report: SE Uplift Inclusionary Housing Workshop

This past Monday evening Urban Nesters attended the Inclusionary Housing Workshop hosted by SE Uplift. The panel was led by OPAL's Vivian Satterfield, who summed up the position of housing advocates, "Housing is a right, development is a privilege." The panel also included Cameron Harrington from N&NE Neighbors for Housing Affordability and Jes Larson of Welcome Home. Personal stories of the current market challenges were shared by panelist Tamar Lynne of Living Stages, as well as audience members that have experienced the impact of aggressive gentrification around the city. 

The panel provided an overview of where we currently stand with housing, what's happening at the state level to open up possibilities for locally-sourced solutions, and what other tools will need to be implemented to address the challenges we face regarding affordable housing stock.

Key take aways from the discussion included:

  • Oregon and TX are the only two states that have a statewide ban on Inclusionary Zoning (ORS 197.309), meaning local governments are prohibited from creating regulations that would establish a target sales price and/or designate that the pricing be intended for a particular group or class of people, effectively affordable housing.
  • Inclusionary Zoning would only be applicable to privately developed, new housing of five units or more, were it allowed.
  • Out of the 1200 new housing units that have recently been built along the N Williams corridor there are only 16 units intended for affordable housing.
  • Home ownership is still the primary way Americans build wealth equity. Affordable home ownership is critical to closing the wealth/prosperity gap.
  • Oregon also has a statewide ban on rent control. 

Housing fairness advocates foresee the possibility of creating a Portland where everyone can prosper through a variety of tools, such as Inclusionary Zoning, Community Land Trusts (like Proud Ground), and perhaps someday, Rent Control. But there are several steps ahead to get there. The Oregon State House recently passed HB 2564, which would lift the ban on Inclusionary Zoning, and it now heads to the Senate. When it (hopefully) passes there it would be up to local municipalities to create and pass zoning laws relevant to their specific market and needs. Advocates expect plenty of resistance from Builders' Organizations, so with this early victory there is still much to be done.

We here at Urban Nest are proud to live in a city with so many wonderful organizations working to create a city where all Portlanders can prosper and contribute. We will continue to follow this action as it unfolds and look forward to our fair city becoming The City That Works For Everyone!