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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — More affordable housing is being built at a lower-than-expected cost with Metro’s affordable housing bond, the elected regional government said in a report released Thursday, May 20.
Metro voters approved the $653 bond measure at the November 2018 election. According to the Metro Housing Bond 2020 Annual Report, “Metro and partners are more than halfway to achieving the goal of 3,900 units with only one-third of bond funds committed. As of December 2020, there were four projects under construction and 15 more in the pipeline, collectively representing 2,045 affordable homes.”
The partners are Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and the cities of Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro and Portland. The first four are scheduled to be completed this year, and the next 14 are expected to open by the end of 2023.
The more efficient spending means the bond could end up financing more units than originally promised.
“With the region on track to exceed the unit production goals established for the measure and new resources coming online, we believe there is not only an opportunity, but an imperative, to do more with these resources — whether that means going broader to achieve more overall units and/or going deeper to support the most challenging-to-fulfill needs such as permanent supportive housing and larger, family-sized units,” said an accompanying memo from the Metro Affordable Housing Bond Community Oversight Committee appointed to ensure the funds are correctly spent.
Metro spokesman Nick Christensen said increasing construction costs are a concern, however.
“There’s definitely a desire to outperform our expectations from our 2018 bond. The rising price in commodity prices is a concern there, so we are not yet adjusting the program’s targets. We will continue to watch lumber prices to see if those cool and we can continue to outperform our 2018 goals,” said Christensen.
The report also said the 19 projects are distributed throughout the tri-county region. Washington County is currently seeing the largest percent of its promised units in the pipeline, with 1,070 projects in the works. Next is Clackamas County, with 459 of its 812 under construction of being planned. Multnomah County is in last place, with 518 of its promised 1,933 units in the pipeline.
“Bond investments demonstrate strong outcomes toward the goal of advancing fair housing and reducing segregation regionally. Forty-six percent of units are in areas with lower than the regional average percentage of people of color, and 59% are in areas with a lower share of per capita regulated affordable housing,” the report said.
Metro voters also passed a 10-year, $250 million-a-year homeless services measure that will provide services to a significant percent of those who move into the new units to help ensure they will stay in them.
The interactive report can be found here.