The Portland City Council’s January 29th unanimous approval of a housing strategy for North and Northeast neighborhoods put into place a five-year plan for investing an additional $20 million in tax increment financing funds from the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area in stated community priorities.
The additional money was made available to invest in affordable housing in March of 2014 by Mayor Charlie Hales with the support of Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, as part of an effort to begin addressing an ongoing threat of displacement and gentrification.
Looking back several decades, inner North and Northeast neighborhoods were home to Portland’s highest concentration of African-American residents, owing, at first, to segregation, but more recently, because of the attraction of the sector’s vibrant cultural center and focus of African-American churches, businesses and other cultural institutions. The 1990s saw changes that left longtime residents with fewer and fewer affordable housing options.
Compared to previous strategies, the newly adopted plan draws its uniqueness from a set of new practices and policies to address specific barriers to housing access, security and economic opportunity repeatedly expressed to Portland Housing Bureau staff by community members. It’s not what will be done with the money that will look different but how it is accomplished. Details on the new plan can be found on the city’s website.