Protecting Housing Options for Oregonians

Overview

In the 2016 short legislative session, lawmakers grappled with how to increase affordable housing options and address Oregon’s housing crisis, CFM protected existing low-income housing properties that serve some of the most vulnerable Oregonians.

Challenge

Low-income housing units owned by nonprofits were at risk of closing across the state after a recent tax court case confirmed the denial of property tax exemptions for these units. Nonprofits depend on tax exemptions as part of the financial model to provide low-income housing. Without these critical subsidies, nonprofits are unable to maintain the properties and may sell them, removing families from their current homes and reducing the availability of low-income housing in Oregon.

Approach

Catholic Community Services (CCS), a longtime client of CFM, provides more than 220 of these units to families in the Willamette Valley. On behalf of CCS, CFM raised awareness of the issue at the legislature and advocated for legislation that will help preserve existing low-income housing units.

Prior to the legislative session, CFM built a coalition of housing providers and key legislators. The coalition included Oregon Opportunity Network, the Housing Alliance, ShelterCare, NEDCO and Lane County Legal Aid.  Working with legislative leadership and members of the House and Senate Finance and Revenue committees, CFM successfully made the case.

Result

The legislature protected the existing low-income housing property tax exemptions. Although this was a success for CCS, the work is not done. CFM will build on this work by asking legislators to provide incentives for nonprofits to develop additional low-income housing to meet unfulfilled demand. This will be a contribution to the important goal of increased housing options for Oregonians, a stated top priority of the legislature.

CFM Public Affairs Associate Ellen Miller represented Catholic Community Services in taking on this challenge. Learn more about Ellen and her work here