On Monday, July 8, the Oregon Legislature ended the 2013 Session. Neighborhood Partnerships has been busy during the session, both in our role as convener of the Housing Alliance and with other partners in working on legislation to increase opportunities for Oregonians with low incomes. We want to thank our partners who helped accomplish these goals. While there is still more to do, we made great strides forward.
The Housing Alliance helped to pass legislation to create housing opportunity for Oregonians all across the state. Together with other members, we worked on legislation that will:
- Create Housing for Veterans—HB 2417 added $5 to an existing document recording fee to create an ongoing, dedicated revenue source to fund housing for veterans. We know everyone, including veterans, needs a safe, stable place to call home, and HB 2417 will help make sure more of Oregon’s veterans have the opportunity housing provides.
- Protect Oregonians from Foreclosure—SB 558 expands mediation to homeowners facing judicial foreclosure. Additional funds were also secured to help make sure the network of foreclosure counselors and legal assistance remains available for Oregonians in need.
- Preserve Existing Affordable Housing—Across the state, thousands of people with very low incomes live in homes with federal rent subsidies and in manufactured home parks. Many of these homes are at risk of conversion to market rate, including some housing built and owned by non-profit partners statewide. $5 million in Lottery Backed Bonds was secured to fill financing gaps and preserve these affordable homes.
- Remove barriers for tenants with Section 8 vouchers to renting homes in their preferred communities. HB 2639 will help ensure that tenants with Section 8 vouchers will have the opportunity to apply for an apartment like everyone else. We know that currently, too many Oregonians are struggling to find suitable housing, even with the aid of a housing choice voucher.
NP worked on a number of other proposals:
With the Oregon IDA Initiative we put forward HB 2316, which expands asset limits for Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative participants to help build financial resilience and access opportunity. Otherwise eligible participants with modest retirement savings are being turned away from the program due to current limits. The Legislature passed HB 2316, which exempts the first $60,000 of retirement savings in the calculation of net worth to build financial resilience and savings. This bill removes a serious disincentive to save for participants.
NP also worked to extend the sunset on the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is one of the most effective programs to help low– and moderate-income families make ends meet. It creates a pathway out of poverty for Oregon families and helps them manage life’s many financial demands. We also supported an expansion of the credit, which unfortunately did not move forward.
NP also worked to continue helping to protect vulnerable families with children through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Legislature added an additional $5 million to the JOBS program to provide additional supports to families. Together with other advocates, we successfully advocated to ensure the program will remain at a 60 month lifetime time limit.
NP also participated in the Retirement in Reach Coalition, which worked on a bill to help create Retirement Security for Oregonians. HB 3436 will create a task force to examine possible solutions to the lack of retirement security and savings among Oregonians, particularly low and moderate income Oregonians.
We are so excited and grateful to have been a part of such significant change this legislative session, and are looking forward to continuing this work. We’ll be in touch about how you can be part of all this.