Merkley, Wyden Announce Vital Funding for Housing and Transportation Projects in Government Funding Deal

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announce they have secured investments that will support critical housing and transportation services and projects across the state. The investments are included in a broader funding package that is expected to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by President Biden this week.

“I joined the Appropriations Committee to bring solutions to the issues Oregonians care most about, and this bill tackles two that I hear about all the time: Housing affordability and climate chaos,” Merkley said. “Both of these urgent issues affect every corner of our state and nation. I am pleased that the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated significant resources for Oregon projects to build affordable housing and shelter Oregonians without homes. And by electrifying public bus fleets and improving electric infrastructure it will reduce the carbon pollution that is driving climate change. This bill delivers in a big way for Oregon and for America.”

“These federal investments to combat skyrocketing housing costs, strengthen transportation infrastructure throughout Oregon and tackle the climate crisis are a direct response to issues Oregonians share with me in town halls, small business visits and everyday encounters in the grocery store,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified this legislation reflects Oregon communities’ priorities of securing housing that’s affordable, ensuring Oregonians can get smoothly from Point A to Point B, and generating clean energy opportunities. Big thanks to all the Oregonians who helped shape this bill into such a strong investment for our entire state.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill includes support for affordable housing and homelessness services—which are of particular importance as the state grapples with the aftermath of both the coronavirus pandemic and devastating wildfires:

Community Development Block Grants: Merkley successfully advocated for $10 billion for Community Planning and Development, an increase of $1.75 billion above fiscal year 2021, including $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants. This program funds vital housing rehabilitation, supportive services, public improvements and economic development projects in communities across Oregon and the nation while encouraging local investment.

Affordable Housing: As rural and urban communities across Oregon continue to experience housing crises, Merkley successfully advocated to increase for affordable housing programs for some of Oregon’s most vulnerable people—low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. Merkley led 37 of his colleagues in a successful effort to provide an additional $475 million to support continuing rental assistance for 1.2 million low-income households. The Senator also helped increase Housing Vouchers to serve up to 25,000 more low-income individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including survivors of domestic violence and veterans. This funding increase includes up to 4,000 new affordable housing units for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Rural Housing: The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) and Rural Capacity Building Program received $12.5 million and $5 million, respectively. SHOP provides funds for non-profit sweat-equity homebuilders, such as Habitat for Humanity, to cover land purchases and infrastructure costs. The Rural Capacity funds are intended to build the capacity of rural low income housing non-profits by providing training, information, technical assistance, and financing.

Homeless Assistance Grants: Merkley secured $3.2 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, a $213 million increase that will benefit organizations across Oregon. Within that appropriation, rapid rehousing programs for victims of domestic violence received $52 million; homeless youth programs received $107 million; and Emergency Solutions Grants—particularly important to the Portland metro area—received $290 million to support street outreach, emergency shelter, homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing assistance.

HOME Investment Partnerships Program: The bill includes $1.5 billion for the program to provide states and localities with flexible resources to respond to their affordable housing challenges, including rental housing and paths to homeownership for low-income families.

HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing: The program received an additional $50 million to provide new rental assistance vouchers for homeless veterans.   These vouchers have been critical to reducing veterans’ homelessness by 50 percent since 2010.

Capital Investment Grant Program: The bill includes nearly $2.2 billion for the program, which provides funding for major transit investments that support sustainable transportation and reduced congestion in cities like Portland, Eugene and Salem.

National Infrastructure Investment Grants: Formerly known as TIGER and BUILD, the program received a $775 million investment for 2022. This critical transportation grants program has helped fund projects across Oregon such as the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge replacement project.

Port Infrastructure Development Program: The bill includes $234.3 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program, which improves the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods into, out of, around, or within a port.

Essential Air Service and Contract Towers: Merkley secured $350 million for the Essential Air Service. The Essential Air Service program supports flights between the City of Pendleton and Portland International Airport, a vital connection to support economic development across Eastern Oregon. Additionally, the bill increases funding for FAA Contract Towers to $178 million. There are six contract towers across Oregon, and this funding ensures their continued operation.

The next step for the bill is a full Senate vote, and eventually merging with a counterpart bill from the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be passed by both houses and signed into law.

In addition to the funding allotments above, Merkley and Wyden secured in the bill federal funding for specific housing, transportation infrastructure, and other projects throughout Oregon, including:

  • $2 million to Casa of Oregon for Harbor Village RV Park
  • $1 million to Homes for Good for Lazy Days Mobile Home and RV Park
  • $2 million to Center for Hope and Safety for its HOPE Plaza Housing and Economic Development Project
  • $1 million to Oregon Department of Transportation for its project on Tualatin Valley Highway Safety Improvements
  • $500,000 to Northwest Coastal Housing for its Golden Eagle II housing project in Tillamook
  • $950,000 to Lane Transit District for its Electric Bus Replacement Project
  • $800,000 to Creating Housing Coalition for its project at Hub City Village
  • $550,000 to DevNW – Community Land Trust Affordable Housing for its project on Community Land Trust Developments in Corvallis and Clackamas County
  • $1.44 million to Marion County for the North Fork Road Improvements Project, with Representative Schrader
  • $500,000 to Tillamook Municipal Airport for its project on Automated Weather Observing System Replacement
  • $6.3 million to Salem Area Mass Transit District for its Zero-Emission Bus Fleet Electrification Project
  • $2 million to Habitat for Humanity Portland Region for its Foster Townhomes project in East Portland
  • $2 million to Oregon Department of Transportation for its project on I-84 Exit 216 eastbound Snow Zone/Truck Parking
  • $1 million to Proud Ground for its project on Expanding Permanently Affordable Homeownership Opportunities
  • $600,000 to Lane Transit District for its project on a Trip Planner/Mobile Wallet Application
  • $529,000 to Hacienda Community Development Corporation for its project on Portland Mercado Plaza Repairs & Upgrades
  • $1.2 million to Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency for its acquisition of property for permanent Veterans’ homeless shelter
  • $2.670 million to Multnomah County for its project on a Behavioral Health Resource Center Outdoor Plaza, with Representatives Bonamici and Blumenauer
  • $2 million to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde for its project on Blue Heron Infrastructure Improvements
  • $1 million for Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency for its project on Brian’s Place: Community Action Sheltering Services
  • $1.172 million for Kid Time Discovery Experience for its Early Learning/Childcare Expansion
  • $1 million to North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity for its project on Rural Resident Development
  • $2 million to Oregon Housing and Community Services for its project on Salem YMCA Veteran Housing
  • $3 million to City of Hillsboro for its 53rd Avenue Park West Inclusive Park 
  • $500,000 to City of Beaverton for the Beaverton Non-Profit Incubator Development Project, with Representative Bonamici
  • $1 million to City of Eugene for the Eugene Civic Park, with Representative DeFazio
  • $1,750,000 to the Japan Institute for its Building Renovation Project, with Representative Bonamici

“Harbor Village Cooperative is thrilled to be a recipient of Congressionally Directed Spending within the THUD appropriations bill. These monies will be used to help keep rent affordable for our low income residents as well as replacing our leaking water system,” said Sharon Beck, Treasurer of the Harbor Village Cooperative. “We appreciate the inclusion of our community in the distribution of these funds. Thank you, Senator Merkley.”

“With more than $1.5 million in federal funding specifically for Lane Transit District projects, we can continue our mission to connect the community with expanded reliable, sustainable, and quality public transportation,” Mark Johnson, General Manager, Lane Transit District. “This funding will help further electrify our fleet, as well as improve accessibility and trip planning for all modes of transportation. We thank Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for everything they’ve done to support sustainable public transportation, and for pushing to secure support for our projects.”

“This $2 million for the 1-84 Exit 216 project is welcome news for CTUIR,” said Kat Brigham, Chair of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. “We are glad ODOT has submitted this funding request and we look forward to collaborating with them on it. Creating safety at one of the most treacherous stretches of highway in the national interstate system will be greatly appreciated.”

“With more than $1.5 million in federal funding specifically for Lane Transit District projects, we can continue our mission to connect the community with expanded reliable, sustainable, and quality public transportation,” said Mark Johnson, General Manager, Lane Transit District. “This funding will help further electrify our fleet, as well as improve accessibility and trip planning for all modes of transportation. We thank Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for everything they’ve done to support sustainable public transportation, and for pushing to secure support for our projects.”

“We at Kid Time appreciate the dedication Senator Merkley, Senator Wyden and their staffs have shown to improving access to childcare and improved opportunities for families,” said Sunny Spicer, Executive Director of the Kid Time Children’s Museum. “After the devastation our Southern Oregon region has experienced due to recent wildfires and the ongoing pandemic, the need to provide quality, affordable early learning opportunities is more urgent than ever.  This project allows us to do just that.”

“We know that homeownership is the best way for working class families to build financial security and stability, but with skyrocketing costs, homeownership is out of reach for too many Oregon families,” said Emily Reiman, CEO of DevNW. “We’re so grateful to receive this funding, to help build two community land trusts in Corvallis and Clackamas County, to offer permanently affordable homeownership options in those communities. A huge thank you to Senator Merkley for his continued support of affordable housing!”

“The Port of Tillamook Bay is thrilled to learn about receiving the community project funding for the upgraded replacement for Tillamook Airport’s Automated Weather Observing System,” Michele Bradley, General Manager at Port of Tillamook Bay. “This is critical equipment for local and transient pilots, UAS test flights, and emergency helicopter transport. The Port of Tillamook Bay is ready to get this project moving, and are grateful to the senator’s office for assistance with our application, and we are thankful for their support.”

“On June 2nd, 2021, Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden were on the site of the Lazy Days Mobile Home Park and saw firsthand the devastation caused by the Holiday Farm wildfire,” said Jacob Fox, Executive Director of Homes For Good. “The fact that the THUD bill includes $1 million in federal funding for the Lazy Days Mobile Home park reflects the commitment that the senators have to helping heal and rebuild the community that has been so severely impacted by the wildfire.”

“If we are to ensure an equitable recovery, we need big ideas and bold solutions that represent statewide needs. This legislative package is a representation of our commitments in action and meeting this moment. I appreciate Oregon’s Federal Delegation, as well as Senators Merkley and Wyden, for prioritizing affordable housing,” said Andrea Bell, Acting Executive Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. “These federal investments represent a path forward towards solutions that matter most to the people of Oregon.” 

“We are so grateful to Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for their support for the HOPE Plaza project! HOPE Plaza will provide affordable housing, job training, and wrap around services under one roof to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking in Marion and Polk Counties in Oregon,” said Jayne Downing, Executive Director of Center for Hope and Safety. “The HOPE Plaza project will address the severe housing shortage and the increase in demand for services for victims exacerbated by the pandemic and wildfires in our area. HOPE Plaza will use the trauma-informed Domestic Violence Housing First Model to provide permanent housing to vulnerable families. Thank you to the Senators and their dedicated staff members for highlighting the need for survivors of violence in Oregon!”

“Equity and inclusivity are at the center of our work to address a critical infrastructure need in our community for an inclusive park and playground—and we are tremendously grateful for the continued support and advocacy of Senators Merkley and Wyden,” said Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway. “In Hillsboro and beyond, children and families with disabilities are counting on all of us to provide spaces and facilities that are inclusive and equitable, that make the joy of play accessible, and that enhance quality of life for all. This significant support from our partners at the federal level will help to accomplish our shared goals.”

“Since its foreclosure, the old Blue Heron site has sat empty and abandoned. The funding allocated to the Grand Ronde Tribe under the Transportation, Housing & Urban Development appropriations bill, will allow us to make significant improvements to the property’s infrastructure and take this project one step closer to welcoming family and friends back to Willamette Falls,” said Cheryle A. Kennedy, Chairwoman of the Grand Ronde Tribal Council. “We want to thank our Senators for work they’ve done to highlight this important project.”

“We thank Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for working to secure this significant investment in sustainable public transportation for riders across our region,” said Ian Davidson, President of Cherriots Board of Directors. “With these additional five new zero-emission electric buses, we will be able to provide our community the quality service they expect, but free of harmful pollution. We are thrilled that this $6.3 million in federal funding will accelerate our transition away from diesel buses and toward the electric infrastructure and vehicles we need to best serve our community.”

“Homeless rates among veterans in Oregon remain high, as a new generation of veterans need housing and critical wrap-around services so that they can have what they have so richly earned: a safe, healthy, and warm roof over their heads and hope for a better future,” said Jimmy Jones, Executive Director, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency on Veterans’ Shelter. “Our veterans’ shelter will provide 36 beds of transitional housing where Oregon’s homeless vets can get connected to the critical services they need. We’re very grateful to Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for securing this resource for the Willamette Valley’s homeless veterans.”   

“The past two years have been extraordinarily difficult in the fight against homelessness in Marion and Polk counties,” said Jimmy Jones, Executive Director, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency on ARCHES Inn (formerly Brian’s Place). “The Labor Day wildfires of 2020, the COVID pandemic, the ice storm of February 2021 and the Heat Dome incident of June 2021 have cost hundreds of people their homes, and some of them their lives.  These climate and public health emergencies have swelled an already large homeless population in the Willamette Valley, and created new challenges to keep folks housed, sheltered, and fed.  This investment will allow us to keep our wildfire homeless sheltered, and eventually take more than 100 homeless residents off the streets of Salem, reducing our unsheltered homeless population by 10 percent. We are very grateful to Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for their commitment to our neighbors in poverty, and those suffering in unsheltered conditions in our community.”