Oregon senators Wyden and Merkley tout bills they argue will help families afford housing


Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have outlined their priorities to provide affordable housing solutions around the Portland metro area. 

They gathered for a press conference on Wednesday at Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, or PCRI. The nonprofit owns more than 700 units of affordable housing in north and Northeast Portland. 

Sen. Wyden referred to a bill reintroduced earlier this year called the DASH Act. Among its goals, it would expand the production of affordable housing for low-income and middle-income families. Sen. Merkley brought up a bill he has championed that aims to ban hedge fund ownership of residential housing.  

“What this is about, and it’s real simple (is) making sure that folks have a roof over their head and a floor under their feet, and it is so basic as you get to these cold weather months,” Sen. Wyden said. 

He added that people are “walking an economic tight rope,” meaning they’re balancing food, fuel and rent bills. Sen. Wyden said he wants to expand low-income assistance, such as low-income and middle-income housing tax credits.

“We believe that every family deserves a decent home in a decent community, and that that is completely within our reach. But instead, we are seeing that it almost fading away like a mirage on the horizon. Not only for low income families, but now middle income families,” Sen. Merkley said. “One of the factors in that has certainly been hedge funds, which have proceeded to start buying up a huge share of the single-family housing on the market, market after market.”

PCRI Executive Director Kymberly Horner told KGW that she’s grateful for the senator’s support and understanding of this important topic. 

“We have a glut of people that are living on the streets that are underhoused,” Horner said. “They need mental health issues resolved, or resources. People need wraparound services when they get into the units once they are constructed … I just think that it’s important that we recognize that affordable housing is something that everybody has to get behind at this point in time.”