City completes Affordable Housing Strategy
Hood River’s Affordable Housing Strategy, a project that began a year ago, is now completed and was unanimously adopted by City Council. The Affordable Housing Strategy includes a number of policy tools and actions the City will use to encourage development of supported, long-term affordable housing.
For this project, affordable housing was defined as housing for households or individuals making 120% or less of median family income (MFI). For a family of four, that’s around $92,160. To develop the Affordable Housing Strategy, ECONorthwest provided technical assistance as part of the City’s project team. Last summer, City Council appointed 12 community members to a task force to discuss possible strategies and provide feedback on priorities.
The project team also held seven listening sessions with groups of stakeholders who provided valuable input. The sessions included social and community service providers, employers, local builders, affordable housing developers from across the region, Latino community members, and local government agency leaders. These diverse perspectives allowed the project team to weigh how the various strategies address the needs of the most vulnerable people in the community.
Eight recommended strategies make up the Affordable Housing Strategy, providing a range of approaches to ensure affordability over time. Carrying out strategies will require different types of City actions, and some require partnerships with other organizations. The strategies are:
- Establish Nonprofit Low-Income Rental Housing Tax Exemption
- Invest in Housing Rehabilitation/Preservation Programs
- Develop an Affordable Housing Ordinance
- Continue City-led Land Banking
- Form New Urban Renewal District
- Provide Direct Project Subsidies
- Pursue a General Obligation Bond
“The tools and actions included in the Affordable Housing Strategy won’t solve the need entirely and the City cannot solve affordability issues alone,” says Jennifer Kaden, senior planner and Affordable Housing Strategy project manager. “However, the report includes the strategies most fitting and relevant to the City that can be implemented in the near term.”
The Strategy calls for continued City-led land banking, or purchase of land, for affordable housing development. This concept led to the purchase of a seven-acre site on Rand Road, now slated for development with 129 affordable housing units.
“The City has been proactive with policies to address housing affordability with our existing limited resources, but affordable rental and home-ownership options continue to be out of reach for many residents, reducing the strength of our community and economy,” said City Councilor Megan Saunders, who served as Council liaison on the advisory task force. “This strategy is ambitious but provides clear steps to help Hood River expand our support for affordable housing development.”
City Council weighed in on the draft plan at its April 25th meeting prior to approving Resolution 2022-06, adopting the Affordable Housing Strategy on May 9th.
The City of Hood River has completed several major initiatives to promote housing affordability over the last several years. The Affordable Housing Strategy is intended to build on these successes and create a clear plan for continuing the City’s efforts to support local housing availability for low- and moderate-income residents.
To learn more about Hood River’s Affordable Housing Strategy, including data on Hood River’s affordable housing concerns and details on specific strategies, visit: cityofhoodriver.gov/planning/affordable-housing-strategy/.