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As your guests can attest the cost in Oregon to produce a new unit of affordable housing through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program is approaching $300,000. At this price we will continually be desperate for greater funding from more sources to meet the rising demand for the safe and decent housing that our workforce -- and the elderly and disabled -- need.
Failure to meet that need is not only a moral failure of our society, it is a fiscal mistake. Families can't remain stable contributors to our community without a safe and secure place to live and build the foundations of their lives. Success with a job or at school is exceedingly difficult otherwise. The public cost that grows from the lack of success by thousands households without that launching place is beyond our ability to comprehend and quantify.
Truly addressing the tremendous housing needs will require a clear-eyed look at today's practices and setting guidelines on which to assess our approaches. Why has the per unit cost risen to exceed the cost of a new single family home in most communities of our state? Why are some projects completed at less than half that amount? Are our existing programs and policies skewed toward serving fewer low income households well instead of a greater number adequately? What defines "well" and "adequately"? Which organizations are best at producing, best at managing, best at meeting the needs of low income families? How do we get them to do what they do best and not expect that all organizations in the affordable housing business are going to be able to do each of those very difficult tasks exceptionally well? Can we accept that while the most pleasing event is ribbon cutting at newly constructed projects, the most cost effective -- and most green -- approach is to do a quality job rehabilitating existing properties?
Surely we need to find new resources -- and Oregon Housing and Community Serivces and the City of Portland and other jurisdictions have done a remarkable job of finding new resources. But we also need an unbiased analysis of what we do, how we do it, and what outcomes we are expecting if we are going to make great strides in addressing what should, like universal health care, be a fundamental right in this, the most prosperous country on Earth
posted 3 years, 4 months ago
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