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Housing report: Progress, missed opportunities in plan

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A $20 million city program to mitigate the effects of gentrification in North and Northeast Portland has made some progress but failed to buy land for future affordable housing projects.

Those are among the conclusions that the Oversight Committee of the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy will report to the City Council at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

The committee was created to monitor the spending of $20 million in urban renewal programs approved by the council following protests over longtime area residents being forced out because of increasing housing costs.

The committee's first report cites the following major accomplishments:

• Adopting of a groundbreaking Preference Policy to give some of those forced out of the area a chance to move back into affordable housing. The report says the policy "can be a national model for rectifying past mistakes in housing and urban renewal policies."

• Ground is ready to be broken on the Grant Warehouse project at 3368 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boul. to provide 81 family-sized units of affordable housing.

• Helping a significant number of African-Americans stay in their home by helping to fund needed repairs.

But the committee found the city has not yet adopted a policy for buying land for future development, a practice known as Land Banking."

"The slow start to the land bank described in the Strategy is a significant failure," reads the report, which says "the market is hot and the cost of land is rising. Therefore time is of the essence."

You can reads the report at www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=50265&a=562329.