Thursday, July 29, 2010

New MPAC Subcommittee on Affordable Housing Needs in Reserve Areas: Good News and Bad News.

I attended a Wednesday meeting of a Metro MPAC subcommittee established to discuss affordable housing provisions for reserve areas (Title 11). Metro Councilor Robert Liberty facilitated the meeting.

Packet for the meeting is HERE, including draft Title 11 language.  Members of this MPAC subcommittee are:
  • Clackamas County Commissioner Charlotte LeHan
  • Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey
  • Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby
  • Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman
  • Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle 
  • West Linn Councilor Jody Carson 
  • Portland Commissioner Nick Fish & Director Kate Allen
There were several pieces of good news that I heard at the meeting and unfortunately ONE significant continuing piece of bad news.

Good news
  • MPAC appointed this committee, not the Metro Council
  • All members are elected officials
  • Conversation at the meeting was substantive including recognition of the:
  • Need for better information about housing needs.
  • Need for better information about housing resources.
  • Need to balance affordable housing throughout the region.
  • Need to  understand the location of manufactured housing throughout the region, as it may be an important regional source of affordable housing resource.
Future Meetings, Solicitation of Input
A date for follow up meeting has not yet been set to my knowledge. 
The Chair of this subcommittee has invited comments and data that would help inform the committee as it deliberates on changes in the draft Title 11 provisions. Comments should be sent to Ted Reid at Metro.

Additional good news observations
  • Hillsboro has recently completed a housing needs analysis, which does an EXCELLENT job of focusing on low income renter housing needs.(If I receive a electronic copy I will update this post and provide the link)
  • CASA likely has data on manufactured housing park locations throughout the Metro area.
  • Lake Oswego is looking at including affordable housing needs in the Foothills area.
  • Clackamas County Commission Charotte Lehan is former Mayor of Wilsonville, with experience dealing with manufactured housing and also affordable housing and special needs housing at Villebois.
  • There was recognition that tackling housing needs in reserve areas alone was "working on the fringes" and affordable housing needs may require revisiting the overall existing Metro housing policy.  

The (Continuing) Bad News: At Meeting, Elected Officials Were Given Incorrect Data on Cost Burdens, a Problem that Metro Staff Has Yet to Correct 8+ Months After Problem was Identified.
At the meeting Metro staff handed out sub area profiles to the elected officials from last years Urban Growth Report.  As I pointed out in my December 10, 2009 testimony to the Metro Council objecting to the Urban Growth report, the subarea profile's stated cost burdens were severely understated:

Appendix 8, page 8-23 shows a total of 92,060 cost burdened rental households for 2005 and a total of 213,693 renters—a cost burden rate of 43%. However each of the sub area profiles and table 49 (page 154) show a much lower cost burden of 16% for the region as a whole. These cost burdened percentages in the subareas and in Table 49 are wrong because they divide the number of cost burdened renters by the total count of households. The proper denominator is the total number of renter households. 

Metro Continues to Understate Housing+Transportation Cost Burdened Households for the Region by 301%, and for Some Sub Areas by More than 800%
I have previously prepared a table HERE that shows the sub area cost burden data from Metro compared to MY calculations of the correct cost burden %'s, using Census Tract level data sent to me by Metro last December.  You can see there are significant differences for the baseline data, for the low growth 2030 scenario, AND for the 2030 high growth scenario. 

Examples of Understatement of Cost Burden Percentages for MPAC Subcommittee Member Sub Areas, Using Low Growth 2030 Scenario:
  • Understated by 330% for SW Beaverton (Should be 30% instead of 9%)
  • Understated by 276% for Gresham (Should be 44% instead of 16%)
  • Understated by 398% for S Hillsboro (Should be 40% instead of 10%)
  • Understated by 363% for Lake Oswego (Should be 40% instead of 11%)
  • Understated by 332% for Northeast Portland (Should be 60% instead of 18%)
  • Understated by 806% for West Linn (Should be 40% instead of 5%)
At the Wednesday meeting I HOPED that revised sub area profiles would be distributed but was advised after by Metro staff that the revised sub area cost burden %'s had not been completed because of "staff time limitations" and I concluded that there was no staff plan to make those corrections in sub area cost burden %'s.

ONLY One Additional Piece of Data is All that is Required to Correctly Calculate the CORRECT Cost Burden % for each Subarea. 
Each sub area profile ALREADY includes a count of cost burdened households for each scenario. Assuming this is accurate, all that is required to produce CORRECT cost burdened percentages for each sub area is the ADDITION of a count of the total rental households for each scenario. Dividing that number by the existing count of cost burdened households would yield the CORRECT cost burdened % for each sub area, for each scenario.

Correct Cost Burdened Data Needed NOW for Elected Officials, Continued Foot Dragging Not in Metro's Best Interest
Metro Council will clearly need to publish the CORRECT cost burden % for each sub area before accepting the Urban Growth Plan in December.  Elected officials who are participating on this committee, MPAC members, the Council AND the public need accurate information before making policy decisions on how to meet affordable housing needs. 

Why Metro staff continues to drag their feet when the solution to such a glaring error is so simple is a frustrating mystery to me (and I expect others).

I encourage others who attended the meeting to add below any comments they have about the meeting.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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