Lawmakers committed more than $200 million to increase Oregon’s housing supply, help rehouse and shelter people experiencing homelessness, and prevent future homelessness during the 2023 legislative session.
House Bill 2001 is comprehensive, and its passage provides resources for each community in the state to address their specific affordable housing crises. It amends land use requirements for local governments and requires cities to measure and plan for development-ready lands.
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State of Reform discussed HB 2001 with Mary Kyle McCurdy, deputy director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a nonprofit organization that advocates for land-use planning and works to reverse discriminatory practices and policies. The organization testified in support of the bill during the session.
“HB 2001 combined two big programs,” McCurdy said. “The first part of the bill has steps to reform the way Oregon and its cities go about planning for and developing housing. The second part is focused on investments in the shorter- and medium-term. Two things came together because Gov. Tina Kotek wanted to have a big housing project finished in her first 60 days.”
HB 2001 allows the Department of Land Conservation and Development to provide technical assistance and award grants to local governments, enabling them to implement state code provisions, and to take other actions to incentivize the production of needed housing within the jurisdiction of the local government.
“It requires every city in Oregon to zone land to ensure there is housing available for Oregonians at all income levels. We haven’t done a great job of implementing that. Housing affordability is a national issue. But here in Oregon, we have the strength of the Planning Program that can provide land with the right zoning to make it possible to build housing for people at all income levels.”
The bill will establish the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis at the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, which will require cities to plan for housing needs as allocated by its data.
“Under that the state will create a projection of total housing need for the next 20 years statewide, allocated to each city at several different income levels,” McCurdy said. “So every city will have a target number of units it will have to strive to reach at different income levels based on population. Cities over 100,000 people will have to see if there’s a gap between what their current plans are and what their needs are. They (may) have to adopt strategies to better ensure they’re able to meet that housing need.”
HB 2001 will require the Housing and Community Services Department to provide grants or loans for modular housing and related components.
“The second half of the bill is addressing a lot of specific issues that are more focused on things like homelessness and modular housing funding, which is a way to get affordable housing built on the ground much faster,” McCurdy said. “Some of that money goes to moderate income housing. There are some protections for tenants. Agricultural workforce housing grants are in there.”
A significant amount of funding in the bill will support subsidized housing, so its implementation will depend largely on how quickly those funds are disbursed, McCurdy said.
“What the bill should do is open up more opportunities on land that has been zoned for detached housing. We’re economically excluding many Oregon families who don’t need and can’t afford that much house. We’re the first state that requires all single-family zones to allow duplexes in them. In some zones, three-plexes and four-plexes also have to be allowed. So we’ve already taken steps toward middle housing, and this bill will take the next step.”
The main challenge for local governments in seeing land developed for housing is the lack of funding for infrastructure, McCurdy said.
“You’re seeing this throughout the country everywhere,” she said. “For decades, we haven’t had infrastructure funding like we did in the 1960s. The ability to finance infrastructure has been cramped. We need sewer upgrades and arterial roads. We have tens of thousands of acres in our urban growth boundaries that are zoned for residential development, but we lack infrastructure.”
“Those bills were aimed at housing for those making 60 to 120 percent of the area median income,” she said. “Those bills were crafted to figure out how to pay for this infrastructure. It had strong bipartisan support, but got stalled. And I didn’t hear criticism of these bills, so it was a head scratcher. We think those are great bills that should go forward in our short session. We’ll be amongst others pushing for those.”