MACG sends 35 to Housing Bureau meeting. Committee votes to spend tens of millions more on affordable housing.
Members of MACG’s Affordable Housing Team and other MACG members made a big splash advocating for affordable housing at Tuesday’s public hearing at the Portland Housing Bureau. Our presence at the hearing was impressive, with over 35 MACG members in attendance from six institutions at a daytime meeting!
The hearing was conducted by the Portland Housing Advisory Commission (PHAC), a group of volunteer advisors that consult with the Portland Housing Bureau, the Housing Commissioner and the Portland City Council to recommend policy and program changes. MACG’s Housing Team recently learned Portland’s “Tax Increment Funding (TIF) Set-Aside Policy,” which is a major source of funding for affordable housing development, is up for renewal this year. PHAC hosted the hearing to gather public feedback, and MACG Housing Team members came prepared to present concise recommendations to improve the current policy.
Our message was strengthened by the stories of four MACG leaders who gave public testimony. Emily Davis (St. Andrew Catholic Church) noted that when she became homeless after an accident left her in a wheelchair last year, her options were limited to first-come, first-served youth shelters. “I am currently working close to full time as a preschool teacher,” she added, “but am always one paycheck away from being homeless [again].”
Rita Delamatre, First Congregational UCC, Testifying
Erika Spaet (Portland Eastside Ministries) relayed the Housing Team’s appeal directly to advisory committee members: “We suspect we will not see more units of affordable housing built unless the 30% floor [of TIF funds allocated for affordable housing] is raised. We want to see that floor raised from 30% to 50% to increase the amount of funding available for affordable housing for all…”
During testimony, Brennan Meinke, First Congregational UCC, called on MACG members to stand and make their presence known. MACG outnumbered every other group in the room, including the commissioners themselves.
After public testimony, PHAC drafted and unanimously passed a motion that proposes an increase of TIF Set-Aside funds for affordable housing to 50% at minimum.
Thirteen MACG members attended the first PHAC public hearing on this topic a month ago, and two leaders testified, setting the stage for the larger turnout at this week’s hearing. There was a qualitative difference at the second hearing, with PHAC members engaged, thoughtful, and proactive in advocating for a stronger policy. Our presence and testimony made an impact, as Commissioners witnessed a room filled with unpaid citizens advocating for change. MACG can take some credit for PHAC’s action to draft and pass their bold motion. We made a difference!!
The timeline for a final policy is tight with City Council having the final word. MACG’s Affordable Housing Team will continue to research, learn from housing advocates, and meet with City Councilmembers.
Interested in getting involved? Contact Mary Nemmers email@example.com.
Portland should spend tens of millions more on affordable housing, advisory group says – The Oregonian, 8/6/15
View a photo album of the day!