Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Director Andrea Bell joined U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Hacienda CDC CEO Ernesto Fonseca and other local leaders to meet with residents at Rockwood Village, an affordable housing community that opened in fall 2021 and serves 224 households. Director Bell also shared progress on the statewide housing plan, which was developed in 2019 to expand the supply of affordable housing in communities across Oregon.
“Every Oregonian should have access to a decent home in a decent community, but far too many people across the state are struggling to find housing that is affordable and stable,” said Sen. Merkley. “Rockwood Village is proof that community partners are essential to ensuring we are building housing in the locations that need it most, and we’re providing culturally informed services and resources that match community needs. I’ll continue fighting to get every federal housing dollar I can into our state so communities like this can be replicated statewide.”
After extensive listening sessions in rural, urban and suburban communities across the state, the agency launched a five-year statewide housing plan which outlined ambitious goals. It was the first time that the state had created a strategic, statewide plan for addressing the housing shortage.
“When we created the statewide housing plan, we were given an opportunity to rethink how we deliver services, identify inequities in our systems, and center the voices of those that were intentionally left out. OHCS continues to make steady progress on the statewide housing plan,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell. “We recognize that the plan was written prior to a global pandemic. Out of necessity, we have continually pivoted and reprioritized, while keeping ourselves accountable to the plan. We put forward the largest budget request in the agency’s history for the 2023-2025 budget year: $775 million.”
Following are highlights from progress made on the statewide housing plan. OHCS:
- Set a goal of increasing funding for housing in rural Oregon by 75%. With more than a year to go, OHCS has surpassed its goal by funding 3,612 affordable rental homes in rural areas, a 148% increase from the previous five-year period from 2014-2019.
- Set a goal of funding 1,000 new permanent supportive homes. In 2022, the state exceeded that goal by funding more than 1,200 new permanent supportive homes. This type of affordable housing connects people experiencing chronic homelessness with additional support services to help them stay stably housed.
- Set a goal of increasing the existing pipeline of affordable rental housing by 25,000 homes. In 2022, OHCS has increased the pipeline by nearly 21,000 homes, 82% of the way to meeting the goal.
“This progress represents the collective efforts of our federal delegation, the Governor, the Oregon State Legislature, community partners, Tribal Nations, federal, state and local agencies, developers, local businesses, and local communities—to ensure quality and affordable housing is available to everyone in our state,” said Bell. “But we also recognize the demand for affordable housing options far outweighs supply. This progress shows that having a plan in place, with the right partners at the table, and being accountable to Oregonians, ensures we can continue to deliver.”
Leaders present today remarked on the urgency to keep the momentum going and the need to continue to introduce innovative partnerships and solutions to build quality, affordable housing in every corner of the state. Speakers noted that many members of the community are still struggling to get by, but redoubled their collective commitment to continuing to be relentless in ensuring every Oregonian has a safe, affordable and stable place to call home.
“We know the importance of safe and stable affordable homes for our community members. Rockwood Village is the latest example of our work to not just build apartments to live in, but to create a community where people feel connected and can thrive,” said Hacienda CEO Ernesto Fonseca.
OHCS will begin working closely with stakeholders, with significant community input, over the next year to develop a revised five-year statewide housing plan that reflects the current landscape and addresses the most pressing housing issues facing the state.
Source: Oregon Housing and Community Services