Metro announced last Tuesday that it will start talking with local elected leaders and others about placing a regional affordable housing funding measure on the ballot as early as November 2018.
The Nov. 14 announcement followed the release of a poll conducted in October that found a majority of voters in the region believe more affordable housing needs to be built and are willing to spend up to $50 for it — enough to support a $500 million property tax bond.
The announcement came the day after TriMet publicly asked Metro to take over planning for a regional transportation funding measure originally planned for November 2018. TriMet said the measure should be pushed back to the November 2020 ballot, at the earliest. TriMet believes it is needed to help fund the MAX line proposed for the Southwest Corridor between Portland and Tualatin.
"This poll confirms what housing advocates, renters, seniors and others have been saying for far too long — housing should be an urgent priority for local leaders," Metro President Tom Hughes said in the announcement. "Private developers and non-profits are not getting the job done alone. It's time for our community to come together and do more to ensure seniors, veterans, families and working people can afford a place to call home."
Many questions about such a measure are still to be answered. Several possibilities were discussed by the Metro Council during a September work session. Potential funding sources a regional construction excise tax, a property tax measure, or some authority to dedicate property tax increases caused by new developments to such projects.
During the session, Hughes said the regional government should respond to the affordable housing crisis because the urban growth boundary it administers creates "upward pressure" on home prices. The UGB, as it is commonly called, limits where new development can occur.
"We want to save farm and forest land, but at the same time not price people out of the region because it is such a desirable place to live," Hughes said.
Among other things, the recently released poll found that concern about housing was consistent across the urbanized areas of the three counties covered by Metro, ranging from 62 percent in Clackamas County to 69 percent in Multnomah County. Only voters within the Metro service district — which roughly corresponds to properties within the UGB — were surveyed.
According to the announcement, respondents said politicians (88 percent), developers (87 percent), landlords (81 percent) banks (74 percent), members of the public (76 percent) and large businesses (70 percent) have a responsibility to address the affordable housing crisis, Sixty-one percent said they personally have a responsibility to address the crisis, too.
"People will keep moving here and being born here. Just like our parents and grandparents, we all have a role to play to ensure our community continues to thrive in the face of change," Hughes said. "Right now, people are telling us that means making housing more affordable for everyone."
Even a $500 million bond measure would fall far short of solving the problem. The memo said it would cost approximately $5 billion to provide the 36,000 units needed by households currently earning at or below 30 percent of the area median income ($1,867 monthly for a family of four) in the region. It would cost about $500 million more to provide the 11,100 units needed by those making 30 to 50 percent of median income. solving the problem.
The poll of 800 voters was conducted by the FM3 research and consulting firm. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
You can read the poll at: Portland Metro 2040 Vision Survey.
You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue publicly asked Metro to take over planning .