Our children and families cannot thrive without safe, stable housing. As housing prices have escalated in the Portland metropolitan region, Gresham has remained more affordable than most jurisdictions, but is often still too unaffordable for many families. With around 40,000 households moving to the region each year, and around 20,000 housing units being built each year, it is not difficult to see that the lack of housing supply is heavily impacting housing cost.
In Gresham, we have worked hard on the supply-side of this question. In the past three years, we’ve issued more residential building permits than we did in the prior six years combined. Every side of the affordable housing issue acknowledges, in some way, that supply is a critical piece of the overall affordability conundrum.
We also launched an Affordable Housing Citizen Task Force, with balanced interests from every corner of the housing debate, and asked the Task Force to carefully explore the issue, analyze potential remedies, and deliver consensus recommendations to the City Council. I am eager to see the Task Force’s final report, and I will closely consider their consensus recommendations for implementation.
What We’ve Done:
- Gresham is fortunate to have one of the lowest costs of housing in the entire Portland region, with rents being $300 lower, on average, than in Portland, and with one of the lowest median single family home costs. That is why we have had so much success attracting young families.
- Nonetheless, even that savings is often not enough for people to be housing-secure, which is why we have launched an Affordable Housing Task Force, which will examine all of the issues around housing affordability in Gresham, and make recommendations to the City Council. The Task Force is comprised of people with broad perspectives, from affordable housing advocates, to multi-family property developers and managers, to disabled seniors. This Task Force, and hard-data, will guide my policy perspectives on this issue.
- Over 10 years ago, Gresham launched our Rental Housing Inspection Program, which was one of the first in the nation to provide mandatory inspections, meaning that we could get in to more units, and also anonymize complaint-driven inspections to protect renters from landlord retaliation.
- In total, we have inspected 15,440 rental units since the program was created, discovering around 30,000 violations, prompting landlords to fix the issues and keep dwellings safe and healthy.
- We regularly get calls from communities across the nation to learn about our successes with this program. Big, progressive cities like Portland are just now starting the process of replicating Gresham’s model.