Housing was one of the biggest issues debated by the Legislature during the 2017 session. This topic also came up quite often during a couple of town hall meetings I held in Medford and Talent in late July. It’s easy to understand why this is, as there are few things more important than having a safe, comfortable and affordable place to call home.
House Bill 2004 was introduced in response to this growing problem. Among other things, that bill would have allowed cities to impose rent control policies and eliminated the use of no-cause evictions.
My office received countless emails from small-time landlords and others who were concerned about taking this approach to resolving these issues. Many said that it may cause the owners of rental properties to consider selling those homes.
HB 2004 narrowly passed the House and came over to the Senate, where it was changed considerably in committee. However, it was not among the bills that passed by the end of the session on July 7.
As the debate over the bill continued, my office started hearing from constituents who supported it due to their concerns over housing affordability. But we also continued to hear from those who were opposed to it. We even started hearing from realtors in the district that I represent in the Senate that many of those rental home owners were already starting to sell those units, which takes them off of the market and makes them unavailable for anyone to rent.
Although HB 2004 did not pass, there were other measures taken by the Legislature to provide assistance to people who are struggling with the high costs of housing. Approximately $40 million in funding was approved for emergency rental assistance to prevent homelessness and move people back into housing. This was done through the Emergency Housing Account and State Homeless Assistance Program, which is intended to support emergency shelters.
An additional $1.3 million in funding was approved to continue a foreclosure counseling program through the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance program. A Local innovation and Fast Track affordable housing program received $80 million in bond funding for the purpose of creating more affordable housing. Another bill, SB 5530, provided $25 million for the preservation of existing affordable homes.
Lastly, the omnibus tax credit bill, HB 2066, extended the Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit that was set to expire in 2020 to the year 2026. That program had been capped at $17 million, and HB 2066 raised that cap to $25 million.
While none of those were the solutions that supporters of HB 2004 had hoped for, I believe they are a step in the right direction for the people of this state. My office will continue to work on solutions for housing issues in the months between now and the start of the February 2018 legislative session. Please continue to let us know how you feel about these issues, and any ideas you may have for legislation that can help solve these problems.
Sen. Alan DeBoer
Senate District 3Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-421, Salem, Oregon 97301