Reports + Articles


New National Advocacy Tool Features Oregon in Initial Use

As part of a new advocacy effort to prevent proposed cuts to federal rental assistance funds, the National Housing Trust (NHT) recently began preparing “Story Books” highlighting residents in HUD-assisted properties from states with members of Congress in key roles. The Network for Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH) submitted preservation property photos and stories to NHT, which in turn used that information to create its first audio slideshow to be shown on iPads during congressional visits.

Click here to download the slideshow. Once you open the file using Microsoft PowerPoint, select the Slide Show tab in order to view with music.

— Posted on 8/18/2011

Governor Names New OHCS Director

On August 12, Governor John Kitzhaber announced Margaret Van Vliet as the new director of Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). Van Vliet will leave her current position as director of the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) on September 15 and take over leadership of OHCS beginning October 1. She comes to OHCS after two successful years at PHB, including guiding the agency through the merger of the old Bureau of Housing and Community Development and the housing functions of the Portland Development Commission. Prior to her tenure at PHB, Van Vliet worked as both the executive director and deputy director of the (then) Housing Authority of Portland, on policy in the governor’s office during one of Kitzhaber’s previous terms, as the executive director of the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing, and in the banking industry.

Governor Kitzhaber replaced former OHCD Director Victor Merced in February, naming Rick Crager, OHCS deputy director, as acting director during the six-month search. OHCS likely faces a re-budgeting and restructuring process following the recent changes with its contract to administer HUD’s project-based Section 8 assistance in Oregon (see post from August 11).

— Posted on 8/15/2011

Update: OHCS to Remain PBCA for Short Term, With Opportunity to Re-Compete for Contract

On August 11, HUD publically released a letter sent to applicants for the recent Performance-Based Contract Administrator (PBCA) awards announcing that most states will be “re-competed” soon. The decision affects the 42 states, including Oregon, where more than one entity applied to be the PBCA and a protest of the award was filed. HUD aims to release a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) within 60 days, as opposed to the Invitation for Submission of Applications that it used previously, that will address the concerns of protesting entities that the original bidding process did not adequately disclose how it would evaluate applications. Currently, it is unclear the extent to which switching to a NOFA will affect the application and award process.

In the meantime, current PBCAs, such as Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), will be offered a six-month contract extension so that owners of properties with HUD project-based rental assistance contracts will continue to receive payments. However, this extension will include reduced tasks and a lower administrative fee than in the existing contract, though further details were not released. As such, it is also unclear how this new development will affect staffing levels at OHCS moving forward.

— Posted on 8/11/2011

Update: OHCS Continues with Protest of HUD PBCA Award

As reported last month, HUD recently awarded the Performance-Based Contract Administrator (PBCA) award for Oregon to an organization in Washington, meaning Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) would not continue as administrator for the state’s project-based rental assistance contracts through HUD. OHCS followed through with its vow to protest the award, filing an appeal with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the grounds that HUD did not disclose that the baseline admin fee proposed by the applicant would be weighted as strongly as it was in the decision-making process.

Organizations, many of them also state housing finance agencies, across the nation filed similar protests, with the total now at 48, representing 30 contested states. According to calculations posted on the Oregon Housing Blog, those protests now encompass 78% of the projects and 84% of the HUD-assisted units under contracts with PBCAs for rent assistance nationally.

The GAO recently deferred HUD’s motion to dismiss the protests, meaning the agency will have to formally respond. It is unlikely the PBCA transition process in protested states will occur before the October 1 deadline and what HUD will do to prevent a lapse in payment to property owners in that event remains unclear.

Growing national momentum for questioning HUD’s method of bidding the PBCA contracts offers hope for OHCS receiving another chance to retain the contract and continue its exemplary work administering project-based rental assistance in Oregon. Should HUD’s current decision stand, OHCS will lose approximately $4.5 million it already budgeted for the coming years, forcing it to lay off as many as 24 staff members.

— Posted on 8/05/2011

Administration Seeking Input on Alignment of Federal Housing Programs

The Obama Administration currently seeks stakeholder input on recent proposed affordable housing rental policy alignment activities. The interagency Rental Policy Working Group first convened in 2010 and subsequently engaged stakeholders across the nation in order to identify ways the administration could untangle the burdensome, overlapping program requirements that hinder the creation and preservation of affordable housing. The working group released proposal reports for alignment in 11 different areas, from income reporting to capital needs assessments, and pilot efforts in two of those, physical inspections and subsidy layering review, are just getting underway. Comments on the various proposals are requested by August 26. Click here for further information.

Due to the strength of the ongoing streamlining compliance efforts at the state and local level, Oregon was one of six states asked to participate in the federal pilot for aligning physical inspections. This pilot will test the implementation of the alignment proposal available at the link above.

— Posted on 8/04/2011

State and Local Housing Policy Conference on Sustainable Communities in DC September 25-28

The National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy will host Solutions for Sustainable Communities: 2011 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy in Washington, DC from September 26 through 28. The event will cover a wide range of topics dealing with the intersection of housing, transportation, and environmental policy, including preservation of housing near mass transit and financing mechanisms for green retrofits. Traditional conference sessions, roundtable discussions, forums and mobile workshops will provide state and local leaders in attendance access to working solutions from around the nation. Click here for more information.

— Posted on 8/04/2011

Housing Justice Network Conference in DC October 15-17

The Housing Justice Network, facilitated by the National Housing Law Project, will hold its annual training and meeting starting October 15 in Washington, DC. The two-day annual meeting on October 16 and 17 offers an array of valuable workshop sessions, including those focused on preservation issues, and brings together advocates, organizers, residents, and public interest attorneys from across the nation. The one-day federal housing programs training on October 15 is designed for those with limited experience with affordable housing issues. Interested parties can register for the annual meeting, training, or both, with discounted pre-registration rates available until September 16. Click here for further details.

— Posted on 8/04/2011

New HUD Studies Highlight Decrease in Most Affordable Units

Underscoring the rising need for preservation efforts across the country, two new studies commissioned by HUD indicate that the nation’s supply of rental housing affordable to people with the lowest incomes fell by approximately 2.1 million units between 2007 and 2009. The study focused on rental affordability, Rental Market Dynamics: 2007-2009, reveals that non-market (either no cash rent or a subsidized rent) or extremely low rent (affordable to households with incomes at or below 30% of area median income) unit totals decreased by 17.9% and 25.2%, respectively. Out of eight different rental unit categories indentified in the report, the only other loss, 5.5%, of units was for those with extremely high rent (affordable to households with incomes above 120% of area median income). The report points to conversion of units to higher rent categories as the causes of the net losses in non-market and extremely low rent housing.

The other report, Components of Inventory Change: 2007-2009, examines changes to all housing stock, rental or ownership, and provides both forward- and backward-looking analysis. The findings include totals by certain unit characteristics, such as occupant household income level, and cause of stock change, such as new construction or conversion to nonresidential use.

Click here to download either report. Both use American Housing Survey data.

— Posted on 8/03/2011