Many affordable housing projects have been recently completed or are in the pipeline, but they don’t seem to be making much of a dent in the need for low-income units.
Federal stimulus funds have played a factor in sparking preservation and new construction of affordable housing. But other factors, including the pace of home foreclosures and rent increases at some low-income buildings, means the need grows.
“We are not catching up as fast as anyone in housing would realy like,” said Margaret Van Vliet, executive director of the Portland Housing Bureau, which in fiscal year 2010 funded 409 new affordable housing units, as well as rehabilitation work on 509 units.
People lose jobs, then their homes and migrate towards apartments, putting some upward pressure on rents, Van Vliet said. That’s a kind of “situational homelessness” in addition to chronic homelessness.
Portland has gone through project spurts before, “but it’s never enough,” said Doreen Binder, executive director of Transition Projects.
“We’re finding more people in need,” she said.
The Central City Plan, adopted in 1988, set a goal of restoring housing units for the very poor in the central city to 1978’s level of 5,183.
The most recent inventory of such units, released by the Northwest Pilot Project in January 2010, pegged the number at 3,325. That’s basically flat compared with the 3,330 recorded in the previous inventory in 2007.