Rising housing costs affect our whole community. That’s why affordable housing is a Hillsboro City Council 2019 priority:
"Encourage and support innovative long-term housing solutions, such as land banking, to promote the development market-rate and regulated affordable housing, affordable homeownership opportunities for Hillsboro residents, and regional partnerships to address homelessness."
The City of Hillsboro promotes a balanced mix of housing types for a broad range of incomes throughout the city. As part of this approach, the City Council has prioritized supporting the development and preservation of housing affordable to households earning less than the Area Median Income (AMI).
Hillsboro's Affordable Housing Policy and Action Plan identifies tools and policies that can help increase and preserve the City's supply of affordable housing. The Plan is rooted in the:
- Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan
- 2015–2020 Washington County Consolidated Plan
- Hillsboro Comprehensive Plan
About 45% of households in Hillsboro are "cost burdened," meaning they spend more than one third of their monthly income on housing. Nearly 11% of Hillsboro residents live in poverty.
For many of our neighbors and our families, housing cost has a significant impact on livability.
Housing costs rise when our overall housing supply fails to keep pace with demand. Hillsboro has more than 2,500 affordable units throughout the city — and still, we need more. Adding market-rate housing throughout the City helps ease pressure on everyone.
The City of Hillsboro’s Affordable Housing Policy and Action Plan identifies tools and policies that can help increase and preserve the supply of affordable housing for Hillsboro community members.
In addition to the Affordable Housing Action Plan, the City already has supported affordable housing in significant ways:
- The Community Development Block Grant program moved to the City of Hillsboro from Washington County in 2018, positioning the City to direct federal funds to where they can do the most good.
- With a $300,000 contribution to the 120-unit Willow Creek Crossing Apartments at 185th Avenue and Baseline Road, the City of Hillsboro will help the Washington County Housing Authority and DBG Properties complete the affordable housing project in 2019.
- REACH Community Development’s Orchards at Orenco opened 167 affordable apartments, including some three-bedroom units, in close proximity to the Orenco Station MAX stop.
- The City of Hillsboro continues to focus on and seek opportunities to deliver affordable housing opportunities throughout the community.
- The City specified affordable housing as a priority initiative in the Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan and the Hillsboro Comprehensive Plan.
The City of Hillsboro also uses tools, including property tax exemptions for nonprofit affordable housing owners, gap financing, and leveraging publicly-owned property, to further affordable housing efforts.
When evaluating potential housing sites, the City will consider proximity to transit, services, and amenities like parks and shopping. Community input, equity and diversity, zoning, a mix of housing types, and other factors also will be important.
Affordable housing is about more than apartments. It’s also about affordable home ownership, which is a way for our community members to achieve stability and build wealth.
Through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides grant funds to communities like Hillsboro to serve low- and moderate-income residents.
The City of Hillsboro completed the first year of managing its own program — and directing those limited funds to where they can do the most good — in July 2019.
At the top of the list: home ownership, the rehabilitation of existing homes, and support for housing development. The program provides a range of support — from preventing people from experiencing homelessness to enabling families to purchase their own homes.
Helping Hillsboro Residents
Here's where the City directed federal funds over the last year.
- Affordable home ownership through Proud Ground's land trust model means the home will always be affordable. (City of Hillsboro CDBG contribution since July 2018: $433,000)
- Housing rehabilitation keeps low-income homeowners (especially seniors) in their houses safely, by helping them to make necessary repairs and accessibility accommodations. ($201,669)
- Street improvements will advance an 8-unit Habitat for Humanity development that promotes affordable home ownership. ($77,000)
Support for the Fair Housing Council of Oregon raises fair housing awareness in Hillsboro.
The funds — and the City's partnerships — have a meaningful impact on the Hillsboro community. The City's funds directed to Proud Ground, for example, enable the organization to offer $80,000 in down-payment assistance grants to five qualifying home buyers searching for homes in Hillsboro.
Even better, the City’s involvement will benefit more than the initial five home recipients. These five properties will continue to provide affordable housing in perpetuity for Hillsboro community members.
As the City continues managing its own CDBG program, exciting developments are on the horizon:
- The City will continue its support for Proud Ground affordable home ownership, housing rehabilitation, and the Fair Housing Council of Oregon.
- Habitat for Humanity's 8-unit Alder Commons will open in 2020.
- Next year, the City will fund:
Voters approved a $652.8 million affordable housing bond measure in 2018. The Metro Affordable Housing Bond will support increasing the region's supply of affordable homes for seniors, working families, veterans and others who need them.
Regionwide, Metro's plan sets the following goals for a five- to seven-year period:
- Create 3,900 affordable homes at 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) or below
- Designate 1,600 of those affordable homes for households earning 30% of AMI or less
- Build at least half of the affordable homes with family-sized units of two to five bedrooms
- Ensure a maximum of 10% of the bond-supported affordable homes are for residents making 60% to 80% of AMI
- Advance racial equity and other guiding principles through investments in regional housing
In addition to the City of Hillsboro, Metro designated the Housing Authorities of Washington County and Clackamas County, Home Forward (serving Multnomah County), and the cities of Portland, Beaverton, Gresham, and Hillsboro as its implementation partners.
How the Metro Bond Can Help Hillsboro
The Metro bond is a significant way for the City of Hillsboro to implement its approach.
The City will have access to up to $40.6 million of the total bond to produce an estimated 284 affordable units. Metro will hold the funds in reserve, allocating funding on a project-by-project basis as the City proposes eligible affordable housing development projects.
Of the anticipated 284 affordable units, 117 will be designated for residents with AMI of 30% or below. Half, or 142, of the units will be two or more bedrooms.
Metro will withhold up to 10% of the total bond proceeds, or about $62 million, for a regional land acquisition program for affordable housing development. This program does not have its own unit targets, and may support the production of affordable housing in the partner jurisdictions.
Hillsboro's Local Implementation Strategy
To receive bond funds, the City of Hillsboro and other implementation partners must create and submit a Local Implementation Strategy (LIS) to Metro. The LIS includes:
- A plan to achieve the unit targets,
- Criteria for housing site selection,
- A strategy for advancing racial equity, and
- Community engagement.
Meaningful engagement, especially with communities of color and marginalized communities, is the basis of the City's Local Implementation Strategy. With nearly one of every four Hillsboro residents identifying as Hispanic and/or Latino, City staff discussed affordable housing needs and preferences with low-income Latino community members.
This community input informs the City's strategy about site selection, culturally competent marketing and services, and low-barrier screening criteria.
Metro is scheduled to review and approve the City's LIS in fall 2019. The City of Hillsboro and Metro will consider an intergovernmental agreement that authorizes the City as a Metro Affordable Housing Bond implementation partner.