Message from Michael
State of Emergency
In February, we announced a plan to commit 500 project-based vouchers to housing developments over the next three to five years. We were worried that rents were rising so high that housing choice voucher holders would be priced out of many neighborhoods, and we wanted to ensure footholds of affordability.
Ten months later, we know this isn’t a passing storm and words like “crisis” and “emergency” aren’t just rhetoric.
The market trends that worried us have surged at a pace that has overwhelmed our community, and now, the interconnected crises of homelessness, renter displacement, and shortage of affordable housing are at the forefront of everyone’s consciousness. We are working with our elected officials, partners, and advocates to respond on all fronts.
Here’s what we’re doing:
- We’ve accelerated the assignment of the 500 project-based vouchers we pledged earlier this year. In addition to making up to 200 of these vouchers available through our own competitive process (to be awarded soon), we have pledged another 100 in support of the City of Portland’s $61.5 million investment in affordable housing development. This goes beyond the 107 we’ve already committed to developments in South Waterfront, the Pearl District and inner Northeast and Southeast Portland.
- We’ve dedicated 200 tenant-based housing choice vouchers to the countywide homeless family system of care, and Multnomah County is busy deploying these resources to households that need help today.
- With a matching grant of $425,000 approved by the Portland City Council last week, we will have $850,000 to help new voucher holders and current participants forced to move with their housing search and related expenses, so that they don’t lose their housing assistance.
- Partnering with Northwest Pilot Project and the Urban League, we will provide 60 vouchers for an anti-displacement effort recently funded by Meyer Memorial Trust. The initiative will help seniors in North and Northeast Portland who are rent burdened and financially vulnerable remain in their homes.
- We have joined with the City of Portland and the Clackamas, Washington, and Clark County housing authorities to underwrite market research that we hope will result in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allowing us to set voucher subsidies at levels that reflect our market rents, rather than basing them on three-year old data.
- At the same time, we are using our Moving to Work deregulation authority to petition HUD to increase voucher subsidy limits.
- HUD approved our request for higher rent subsidy limits for VASH vouchers, which is supporting the community effort to end veterans homelessness by the end of the year. We also dedicated 50 tenant-based vouchers for vets who don’t qualify for VASH, and we’re on track to exceed our goal of providing 50 Home Forward apartments for homeless vets.
In the midst of this crisis, we see tremendous, coordinated efforts on many fronts and we are hopeful for a better future. We want to be part of a community with a thriving economy that makes sure its most vulnerable neighbors aren't swept aside in its wake. We stand with all of you who will not rest while that work needs to be done.
Michael Buonocore, Executive Director