PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A years-long affordable housing project is finally complete, adding dozens of new homes in Washington County. However, as state leaders point out — it is just one solution to a growing need for housing in Oregon as rent skyrockets faster than income for many.
“In Oregon, we face a housing crisis,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said during a ribbon-cutting for one of the state’s completed housing projects.
It’s a crisis Gov. Brown says was only exasperated by the pandemic, as state leaders say it’s time to address how a lack of affordable housing can work hand-in-hand with homelessness.
“Home prices and rents have certainly skyrocketed, contributing directly to Oregon having some of the highest rates of people experiencing homelessness in the entire nation,” said Brown.
The state’s solution: creating at least 25,000 affordable housing options in five years. While they’re halfway through, that project already has more than 18,000 funded or finished. But some parts of Washington County say there’s still much more work to be done.
“Within Tigard alone, there’s a need of more than 4,600 housing units to be affordable to lower-income households,” said Jason Snider, Mayor of Tigard. “These numbers are daunting, but they can be overcome.”
One of the county’s projects to come to fruition is Viewfinder, an affordable apartment building in the Tigard triangle area, with 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments, laundry facilities and access to public transportation.
“Of the 81 units, 100 percent of them are leased up and moved into. We had our last move-in a week ago,” said Eric Paine, CEO of Community Development Partners, overseeing Viewfinder.
The homes are limited to households and families earning 30-60% of the area’s median income, while also including eight apartments for veterans.
“There are veterans that were formerly homeless and the voucher pays their rent and comes with other services like wraparound case management services for each of those units,” said Paine.
The building is just one of many funded by the $652 million Metro Regional Affordable Housing Bond and the first bond project led by Washington County to open its doors. Of the state’s five-year housing project, Metro says they’re ahead of schedule, at about half of the original cost, though it’s unclear if additional projects will be added into the budget.
Metro says greater Portland needs at least 48,000 affordable homes to meet the current demand. Other ongoing housing projects including a hotel renovation in Aloha and new construction in Montavilla gearing toward BIPOC, seniors, and victims of domestic violence.