Oregon Makes Progress Toward Housing Goals

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.   

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