Janet Byrd offers potential affordable housing solutions to the Portland Tribune

Today, Peter Korn from the Portland Tribune covered the story. He turned to NP Executive Director Janet Byrd looking for solutions to the affordable housing problem in the state:

The desperate need for more low-income housing has led to the formation of a new work group including two state legislators, the Oregon Home Builders Association and representatives of cities, counties and others with an interest in housing, according to Janet Byrd, executive director of Neighborhood Partnerships, a Portland nonprofit working on low-income housing issues.

Byrd is one of the driving forces behind the new group, which first met two weeks ago. She says the group hopes to look at ways to encourage construction of low-income housing. Among the issues they intend to tackle are possible code changes that might make it easier for developers with creative solutions to build. But she also says state money needs to be part of the package to incentivize potential builders of low-income housing.

“The state really needs to think of housing as an infrastructure investment and put some serious money into construction,” Byrd says.

Some local private developers are pushing the city for code variances and waivers of development fees that would allow them to build much lower cost low-income housing. A few projects that did not accept public money have been able to offer apartments built as inexpensively as $70,000 per unit.

Project saved time, money

Byrd says the Kah San Chako Haws, an apartment project in Southeast Portland’s Lents neighborhood, is an example of a creative solution to low-income housing. The modular three-floor, nine-unit Kah San Chako Haws was completed in 12 months, half what a typical project might take. It was developed by the Portland’s Native American Youth and Family Center, though its apartments, which rent from $500 for studios to $800 for two bedrooms, were not intended to exclusively house low-income Native Americans.

You can learn more about NAYA’s Kah San Chako Haws apartment project here.

And more about the statewide Affordability, Balance and Choice workgroup that Janet mentioned here.

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