Tag Archives: John Miller

City weighs affordable housing funds in urban renewal areas

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

It’s been six years since Portland voted to dedicate 30 percent of the city’s urban renewal funds toward affordable housing. It was a controversial decision at a time when the city’s housing concerns were divided between City Council and the Portland Development Commission, with business, neighborhood and affordable housing interests each weighing in on how the money should be divvied up.

Since its creation in 2006, the policy has generated more than $152 million for housing affordable to low-income and workforce residents, accounting for one-third of tax increment financing expenditures in the city’s nine neighborhood urban renewal areas, or URAs. The money has helped fund the Bud Clark Commons, veterans housing in the South Waterfront district, the Blanchet House reconstruction, and preservation efforts in existing low-income housing buildings. Continue reading

Review of housing set aside reveals positive results

By John Miller, Contributing Writer

As a long time advocate for affordable homes here in Portland I was very happy to discover that the city has exceeded its ‘TIF Set Aside” spending on affordable housing in urban renewal districts over the past five years. I am involved in a review panel that’s looking at the past five years’ performance and then making recommendations for the next five years.  It’s heartening to see that the city has made good, at least in large part, on this critical commitment.

Without getting too “wonky,” here’s some background. TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing, the primary source of funding for development in urban renewal areas.  In 2006 the City of Portland adopted the “TIF Set Aside” that mandated that 30% of all TIF funds in urban renewal districts be spent on affordable housing. Further, the City defined a set of income guidelines to make sure that the money was spent to meet our city’s greatest housing needs. Lastly, the city mandated that the 30% goal applied to each district, and not as a city wide goal (an important distinction  — more on that below). Continue reading

Oregon Opportunity Network’s John Miller

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff writer

Oregon’s network of community development organizations — those developers, nonprofits and agencies that have been the backbone of affordable housing and economic development for low-income, elderly and disabled Oregonians — has taken a thrashing in the past few years.

The recession hit community development corporations, or CDCs, front and back, cutting resources while increasing demand. Despite progress in preserving and creating apartments and homes affordable to people in poverty, they haven’t kept pace with the growing ranks of their clientele.

The Oregon Opportunity Network, or Oregon ON, represents those developers, housing authorities, investors, service providers and community leaders that make affordable housing happen in Oregon. Combined, they have developed more than 16,000 units of housing, including single-family homes, and helped counsel and support more than 10,000 new homebuyers annually, according to Oregon ON.

In May, John Miller took the helm of Oregon ON as its new executive director, having served for nine years as the executive director of HOST Development, a nonprofit community development organization that built homes for low- and moderate-income buyers in Portland.

Although the recession is “technically” over, the wake of the housing collapse and economic uncertainty continues to roil the marketplace and political halls. Street Roots talked with Miller about the state of affordable housing, the message from member developers, and the challenges ahead.

Joanne Zuhl: The big question: What is the pulse of affordable housing in Portland?

 John Miller: I think that we have a really strong set of folks who are doing their best to deliver affordable housing with the resources that they have. And that we also have a city that is committed to delivering a reliable supply of affordable housing. But I think that, as always, and this has been the same, recession or no, that there are not enough resources to meet the needs. I started in the affordable-housing industry in 2002, and at that time real estate was going up, and there were still really not enough affordable shelter at all at that point. And I think we’re worse now because the recession has created a huge demand.

And the big issue often is we supply housing but we don’t supply all the services that go along with the housing, and those service dollars are still missing. And just like eight years ago, they’re still not here. Overall, we have more units, which is great, but we also have a much higher demand. Continue reading