Oregon Among Top in the Nation for Affordable Housing Standards

Posted on July 23, 2023

Oregon Housing and Community Services – 07/21/23 1:34 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon received top marks in a recently released report entitled “Building a Better Affordable Housing Future” released by the Bluegreen Alliance Foundation. The report examined Qualified Action Plans (QAPs) in all 50 states.

“This recognition is a testament to the phenomenal work happening in communities across Oregon,” said Oregon Housing and Community Services Director Andrea Bell. “I’m especially excited to see that Oregon tied with Illinois in receiving the highest score in the racial equity section as we know Black and Indigenous people and other communities of color bear the brunt of inequities at many levels. Housing inequities are one of the most glaring. We also know progress is possible. The QAP is an effective tool used to encourage affordable housing development in our state.”

Each state produces a Qualified Action Plan that serves as a blueprint in where tax credits from the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) will be allocated to fund affordable housing development. This critical planning tool helps states outline how they plan to distribute credits to meet their state’s unique housing challenges and opportunities, as well as their priorities for what types of development are preferred in a competitive process.

This document also provides guidance and transparency to developers in putting forth housing proposals for LIHTC awards, including information around key prioritization factors such as set-asides (for example in Oregon credits are reserved for specific types of developments or target populations such as a set aside for tribal lands) and scoring of competitive points to address unique needs (for example Oregon gives priority to projects in areas with less health risks from environmental factors, as well as more points for projects in areas with high risk of displacement). An example of this innovation is after the 2020 wildfires, Oregon added a criterion to the QAP that awarded five points to proposals in federally declared disaster areas to encourage development and preservation of affordable housing in wildfire impacted counties.

Overall, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Ohio, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Colorado, and Michigan had the highest cumulative scores. Oregon received the highest marks in healthy building practices along with strong scores in energy efficiency. Oregon was elevated as a case study example for racial equity. In addition to the prioritization of key factors around efficiency, health, and equity, the report outlined ways Oregon is ensuring all LIHTC applicants are required to meet elevated minimum standards through such requirements as identifying how applicants will contract with Minority-Owned, Woman-Owned, or Emerging Small Business (MWESB) contractors/subcontractors in the construction and operation of the proposed project, as well as mandating the integration of a “Sustainable Building Path” to enhance energy efficiency in the design and operation of the development.

Oregon’s 2022 Qualified Action Plan can be found on the OHCS website.

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