Committees Hear Updates on Housing Priority Bills
The House and Senate committees on housing met last week to provide public updates on recently passed legislation, interim workgroups, and executive housing and homelessness strategy. With roughly four and a half hours of packed invited testimony, both chambers focused equally on homelessness prevention, housing production, and housing gaps in Oregon.
Two of the bills that were highlighted in both chambers were Gov. Tina Kotek’s 2023 Session housing priorities: HB 5019 and HB 2001.
HB 5019, which allocated millions of dollars for various housing and homelessness initiatives, was passed in April and went into effect immediately. Representatives from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) spoke at length on the homeless sheltering and rehousing initiatives, with $85.2M allocated for high-priority regions in Oregon along the I-5 corridor and into Southern Oregon and $27.4M allocated to rural Oregon counties. With the goal of establishing and maintaining operations for over 700 new shelter beds and rehoming 1,650 households by 2025, OHCS has its work cut out for it. As of July 31, 2023, only 88 new beds have been established and 40 households rehomed.
Both committees also touched on HB 2001, which included the $20M allocated for modular housing funding. After extensive meetings with community stakeholders, this funding will be broken into smaller grants available to companies that need to purchase new equipment, acquire land for production expansion, or establish design standardization. The framework for this grant application will be approved during the October Housing Stability Council meeting with the hopes to open funding applications by the end of this year.
Beyond agency updates, the House Housing committee also granted specific time to discuss interim workgroups on:
- Short-Term Rentals: Chaired by Rep. Emmerson Levy (D-Redmond) and Rep. Cyrus Javadi (R-Tillamook), this workgroup was tasked with investigating the impact of short-term rentals on the affordable housing marketplace.
- Elder Housing: Chaired by Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland), this workgroup is tasked with finding a solution to house medically complex and low-income elder Oregonians.
- Landlord Registry: Chaired by Rep. Dexter, this workgroup is investigating how to accumulate data on housing options in Oregon including who are the landlords, where are the rental properties, and how are they being used.
- Unincorporated Urban Areas: Chaired by Rep. Dexter, this workgroup was tasked with identifying how to include Unincorporated Urban Areas into regional and statewide housing goal initiatives.
- Portable Rental Application System: Chaired by Sen. Kayse Jama (D-Portland) and Rep. Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River), this workgroup investigates what a statewide and universal rental housing application and background check database would look like.
Senate and House Housing members were also invited to attend the Oregon Manufactured Housing Association Affordable Housing Pop-Up, which hosted four factory-built homes provided by local manufacturers Fleetwood, Clayton, Palm Harbor, and Skyline Homes.