Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunshine Week: Oregon Housing Blog Highlights.

This week is Sunshine Week, an annual national event that attempts to create a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Much more about this effort can be found HERE.

I thought it might be useful to highlight some positive Oregon Housing Blog related achievements that have increased public access to housing related information in the past year and to highlight some ongoing challenges.

Short version is that while there are SEVERAL achievements,there is work that still remains.

Achievements.(Not in order of importance)
  1. The Oregon Housing and Community Services began posting for their monthly meetings of the Oregon Housing, the full briefing packages as provides to Council members. (Link in right pane: Oregon Housing Council Materials),
  2. The Oregon Facilities Authority has begun posting, for their monthly meeting of their Board, the full briefing packages as provided to the Board. (Link in right pane to OFA CY 2010 Meeting Packets).
  3. After a several month delay I was able to obtain, for the first time, some limited project expense information from the projects used to determine the Oregon Operating Cost Adjustment Factor. The OCAF determines the amount of annual rent increase permitted for vast majority of HUD project Based Section 8 projects. (See related post HERE).
  4. Within 30 days of the completion of the calendar year, I was pleased to provide, for the first time ever, detailed county level year data on FHA single family loans. Timing was good, as this was a record setting $5.7 Billion year for FHA activity in Oregon. (See related post HERE).
  5. In my view, the Housing Authority of Portland continues to lead the pack on public disclosure of meeting materials. (Their Board Packets have appeared for several years in the right pane; for the current year, see HAP YTD Board Packages).
  6. HUD Regulatory Waivers. I have posted ALL HUD regulatory waivers covering the last 4 FULL calendar years 2006-2009 in ONE document. [On Wednesday I will add 4th quarter 2009 waivers granted, as they are scheduled for publication in the Federal Register then]. (Link in right pane to HUD Waivers-CY 2006-Current).
  7. I began a Metro Housing Watch document that includes links to audio, video and text documents I prepared from key Metro meetings, so that advocates can see and hear for themselves what Council is saying and doing about affordable housing. (Link in right pane to Metro Housing Watch).
  8. I was also able this year to publish in Excel a comparison of FY 2009 and FY 2010 Fair Market 2 Bedroom rents. This allows easy comparison of rent increases between any area in the country. (See blog post HERE).
  9. I was able to publish the first national database of FHA insured loans for the country covering more than 5.7 million units. Database included first FHA project in Oregon, as well as financing details about President Obama's FHA insured apartment home where he lived while attending high school while in Hawaii. (See blog post HERE).
  10. Finally, to round out/stop the list at 10, I was able to examine Public Housing data and determine that the proposed FY 2011 HUD budget proposal to transform rental assistance would offer virtually no benefit to Oregon and other Western states. (See blog post HERE).
Challenges.(Not in order of importance).
  1. The Oregon Facilities Authority is planning procedural and administrative rule changes that would attempt to reduce public disclosure at a time when their loan volume has substantially increased.
  2. Public comments on the OFA agenda have been occurring at the END of their monthly agenda. I hope to get OFA to change this practice as it means that public input will always occur AFTER the Board has made decisions on loan applications and other items on their monthly agenda.
  3. HUD has not published a response to the comments it sought on expediting multifamily loan processing back in late April 2009. My comments HERE pointed out that HUD was NOT publishing handbook waivers as it had previously committed. I was please to note there were more comments to HUD from Oregon than in any other state,those comments can be found in the docket (HERE) for this Federal Register published Notice.
  4. While the OCAF data received for Oregon was a start, I believe more detail about location and unit size information should be available to the public and I HOPE that HUD will reexamine how it makes more data available as part of their annual publication of state OCAF's.
  5. Keeping up with Metro Council developments related to housing needs and local reporting of progress have been a real challenge. Tracking regular meetings of two advisory committees and the twice a week Council agendas is a pain. However it is the only current way to insure that changes in housing related performance measures, or changes in Framework and Function plans, do not slip through the cracks. (See post HERE for an advocate road map that I prepared).
Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, congrats! That is quite a list of achievements for the year and a lot of sun shining in. I appreciate your efforts to increase public agency disclosure - I have become far better informed as a result. Keep it up. Rob