Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley completed his Oregon Affordable Housing Tour today after stops in Portland, Medford and Eugene this week. Merkley held roundtable discussions in each city with local and state advocates about what the federal government can do to help address the housing crisis that is gripping the entire state. Additionally, Merkley heard directly from Oregonians who have been affected by rising rental prices, lack of available housing and skyrocketing housing prices.
“Throughout this tour, I’ve heard from Oregonians who have become homeless due to rental increases and families who qualify for affordable housing only to face a waitlist that is years long. It’s clear that the housing crisis is affecting communities in every corner of the state,” said Merkley. “We have a shortage of affordable housing units and rental prices that have spiraled far beyond workers’ wage increases. This tour underscores that we need officials at every level of government working together to find solutions.”
Some of the ideas discussed during the Oregon Affordable Housing Tour include:
- Greater flexibility for public housing authorities to use federal vouchers for portable rent subsidies or bundle them to preserve and renovate multi-family buildings.
- Dedicate a portion of federal HOME grants and vouchers to the states with the highest need.
- Build on Oregon’s pilot project to integrate housing with healthcare delivery as part of the Coordinated Care Organizations using Medicaid dollars.
- Make existing housing vouchers more effective by changing the Fair Market Rent calculation in communities where rent is rising quickly.
- Increase flexible funding for locally-developed comprehensive plans.
- Expand the affordable housing conversation to include the positive impact of stable, affordable housing on children’s educational success.
Senator Merkley has embarked on the Oregon Affordable Housing Tour to better understand the nuances of this crisis and hear from those directly affected and involved in the issue so he can better fight for these and other federal solutions.