Tag Archives: Oregon Legislation

Accessing your vote: Legislation may mean more access to voting in Oregon

By Jake Thomas, Contributing Writer

Voter turnout in Oregon could see an increase among low-income individuals, students and others around the state. With less than 10,000 people registering to vote through public assistance agencies, lawmakers and advocates are pushing for change.

“The number of people registering at (social service) agencies have been dropping like stones,” said Nicole Zeitler, director of public agency voter registration for Project Vote, a national organization that seeks to increase voting rates. Continue reading

Inclusionary zoning combines social justice, community health

By Jon Ostar, Contributing Columnist

On May 24, Oregon House Bill 3531 got its first public hearing in Salem. HB 3531 repeals the statewide prohibition on inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning is a practical tool that allows local jurisdictions to require that affordable housing units be built along with market-rate housing. In return, cities and counties can provide developers with variances and benefits, such as density bonuses, fee waivers and permit expedition in order to offset the cost of including housing units at affordable levels. The appeal of inclusionary zoning is that it allows local communities to customize a housing policy that meets the needs of their residents. This tool is an effective response to “exclusionary” development practices, which, combined with urban renewal policies, prioritize market-rate urban development at the expense of affordable housing.

Inclusionary zoning is not a new practice. The tool was first used in 1974 in Montgomery County, Maryland, where the inclusionary zoning ordinance has created over 10,000 affordable housing units over the past thirty years. The use of this tool is also widespread. It is estimated that there are approximately 400 local jurisdictions across the country using some version of inclusionary zoning policies. The popularity of the tool is due to its flexibility: from the number of affordable units required to the income levels which qualify for the housing, jurisdictions can tailor the tool to meet their local needs. It can work for urban, suburban and rural areas alike. The tool is also effective as an alternative housing creation opportunity that relies on a public-private sector partnership rather than on federal dollars or public subsidies. Continue reading

Holding up the roof at the House

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

The Housing Alliance is finalizing its advocacy agenda for the 2011 legislative cycle and preparing the case it will make to the state Legislature regarding why the state should support and, in some cases, bolster affordable housing programs.

In a year when the state’s general fund has a $3.5 billion shortfall and the Legislature will make massive cuts to state-funded programs, this is a Sisyphean task

“This is not a good year to be asking the Legislature for money,” says Beth Kaye, the Portland Housing Bureau’s legislative affairs manager.

“There are already proposals circulating from all sides looking at really devastating cuts to the network of support,” says Janet Byrd, the executive director of Neighborhood Partnerships and chair of the Housing Alliance, referring to cuts to welfare programs, mental health, drug addiction treatment programs, and others. Continue reading

New background checks hurt experienced recovery workers

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Unforeseen consequences of a state law designed to protect vulnerable citizens dependent on residential care is impacting people’s abilities to find a job in social work. The negative impact is spurring the SEIU and social service advocates to have the law changed.

House Bill 2442 makes it illegal for organizations that provide residential care treatment to the elderly, disabled, adults in foster care, and the mentally ill to employ people who have committed certain crimes. The organizations affected by the law are limited to those that receive state funding. Continue reading