When I read that Craig Coyner III, former mayor of Bend, had recently died homeless, my heart broke. We are at a crisis point and must move quickly to address our housing needs, while centering community safety and the humanity of our neighbors. As the communities in Central Oregon grow quickly, the people who live here deserve to see action. They deserve stability and support.
That’s why I’m proud to support the Affordable Housing & Emergency Homelessness Response Package (House Bills 2001 and 5019). A bipartisan and bicameral package, this is a $200 million investment that will urgently respond to homelessness, while drastically increasing Oregon’s affordable housing production to ensure low- and middle-income families can stay housed and one day achieve homeownership.
Critical funding in this package gives the state the tools to effectively respond to our crisis, expanding the state’s low-barrier shelter capacity, rehousing people living on the streets, and preventing more homelessness.
With one of the highest rates of homeless youth in the nation, this package also funds programs to provide life-saving support, connecting vulnerable youth and families with rental assistance, shelter facilities, outreach, culturally-specific services, mental health services, and other transitional options. Locally, services for struggling youth are essential. One local program that will benefit from this package is J Bar J Youth Services. This program provides many services to at-risk youth in our community — one of those programs provides shelter and safe haven for homeless teens.
The package couples these immediate actions to respond to homelessness with long-term investments in affordable housing production because we know that a lack of housing supply is the root cause of homelessness. In fact, recent estimates have shown that Oregon is more than 140,000 housing units short of what is needed. This is driving up housing prices and pushing people out of their homes and onto the streets.
After more than 50 years of deprioritizing housing production, we’re making structural changes that place affordable housing as the number-one priority for local governments, special districts and state agencies. It helps the state and local governments work as partners, so that local jurisdictions can break down unnecessary barriers and reach their housing production goals.
This is our chance to think differently about how we get housing on the ground. That’s why we’re investing in new solutions to build more affordable housing. By investing in modular housing made right here in Oregon, we can create jobs and support Oregon’s homegrown industries. Because modular homes are built in factories, we can reduce construction time by 20-30% and reduce total development costs by 5-20%. Businesses and organizations receiving loans or grants will prioritize supplying modular housing to low- and middle-income housing construction in Oregon. Modular homes are also disaster-resilient. Facilities receiving state investments will be required to prioritize state or local need for housing following a wildfire or other disaster. This will ensure that we have an immediate and steady supply of temporary or permanent units to house survivors and rebuild communities.
To further empower local governments and developers to build more affordable housing for middle class and working families, we are also creating a revolving loan fund to cover predevelopment costs upfront. This will improve timelines between projects by providing resources like permitting, system development charges and other related costs.
There is more work to do, but the Affordable Housing & Emergency Homelessness Response Package is a critical, urgent down payment to tackle the crisis Oregon faces and help the Oregonians who need it. This is our time to take action and make real change.
Sign up for our Daily Headlines newsletter
Success! An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.
State Rep. Emerson Levy is a Democrat representing House District 53,
which includes Bend, south Redmond, Tumalo and Sisters.
The city is mulling a transportation utility fee, a seasonal fuel tax and/or a targeted sales tax on food and beverage sales to cover transportaiton costs, repairs. You can respond directly to the city at email@example.com. See our editorial at https://bendbulletin.us/3n5cACr
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.