Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Concrete Outcome from HB 4006: Lake Oswego Proposes Action to Reduce Severe Rent Burdens and Increase Housing Choice for HUD Voucher Households.

Some Background
Last December the City of Lake Oswego held a community event to discuss ways to reduce severe rent burdens as required by HB 4006, passed by the 2018 Oregon legislature. I attended as a Lake Oswego resident, as did the Mayor and several members of the City Council.  

In the discussion at the meeting I noted that 45 years after the HUD voucher program began, only about 25 of 1,500 HUD voucher holders in Clackamas County were located in Lake Oswego. (The 25 HUD voucher count for Lake Oswego is from latest HUD Picture of Subsidized Housing data). 

Updated ACS 2017 severe cost burden data (Table B25070) shows that 1,232 Lake Oswego renters had severe cost burdens; that's 11.9% of all Clackamas County severe cost burdened renters (10,389). 

If Lake Oswego had 11.9% of 1,500 vouchers in Clackamas county it would have 178 vouchers, more than 7X the current vouchers and an INCREASE of 153 vouchers. 

To address this imbalance I recommended, in a document HERE, that the city request that the Clackamas County housing authority adopt HUD maximum small area rents to increase payment standards and housing choice for HUD voucher holders in two Lake Oswego ZIP Code (97034 and 97035).  [In my December document I pointed out that if Lake Oswego vouchers were at same rate as the rest of Clackamas county, Lake Oswego vouchers would increase to 195, an even larger number than the voucher count that would result from applying Lake Oswego's share of severe cost burdened renters}. 

[The HUD Notice HERE explains that housing authorities may adopt small area rents without any required HUD approval; the Guidebook HERE goes into more detail, including establishment of payment standards in Chapter 2 (PDF page 16)]. 

In my recommendation I noted that regardless of the maximum small area rents adopted, the Housing Authority would continue to limit actual voucher rents via their rent reasonableness process. 

And So, Last Night....
Last night the Lake Oswego City Council approved sending a letter to the Clackamas County Housing Authority asking for the adoption of small area rents for zip codes 97034 and 97035. The letter is HERE and says that in addition to reducing severe rent burdens higher payment standards will 
" .. help in meeting the low income housing needs identified in Lake Oswego’s Comprehensive Plan while allowing people to live closer to where they work, reducing traffic congestion."
I commend the Mayor, the City Council, and city staff for taking prompt action following the December severe rent burden meeting prompted by HB 4006. 

I hope the Clackamas County Housing Authority responds positively and takes action to increase Lake Oswego payment standards for zip codes 97034 and 97035 and takes other actions to improve mobility counseling and expand housing choice for voucher holders. 

I am also looking forward to learning about specific concrete actions taken by the other  cities that held public meetings as required by HB 4006 around the topic of severe rent burdens.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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