PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two local senators are making affordable housing a priority throughout the state.
“Affordable housing is a basic need and we’re in crisis now,” said Kymberly Horner, the executive director for the Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives.
Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Jeff Merkley say they are striving to tackle affordable housing and put an end to homelessness. Wyden reintroduced legislation for the Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All Act in March.
The DASH Act would help house all people experiencing homelessness, increase housing and expand homeownership opportunities.
“(We are) some 110,000 units of housing short and the result is enormous pressure on prices, high rents, super high prices to buy homes, really the economic factors driving people into homelessness. So, we have to tackle this at every level,” Merkley said.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the U.S. has a shortage of just over seven million affordable rental homes that are available to renters with extremely low incomes. That means only 33 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households.
“Every night across our state, thousands and thousands of Oregonians go to bed without a roof over their head or under their feet. And we’re better than this,” Merkley said.
The senators hope to accomplish their goal by finding federal funding, reforming the tax code to strengthen the low-income housing tax credit, as well as establish a renter’s tax credit and middle-income housing tax credit.
Community leaders say more needs to be done.
“In addition to needing housing units, we also need the wraparound services to properly treat people and help people in a very dignified and supportive way,” Horner said.
As the government shutdown approaches on November 17th, more may be known about federal funding to address the affordable housing crisis.