About the Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing project

Purpose, background, timeline, and contact information for the Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing project.

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Project purpose

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is currently managing the grant, Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing, funded through the Metro Planning and Community Development grant program. This multi-faceted project will:

  • Identify faith and community-based organizations that are interested in offering their available land for development of affordable housing.
  • Provide design and finance consultation for three organizations to prepare them for future affordable housing development projects.
  • Determine barriers to development and how those can be addressed and/or streamlined.

Anticipated results

The goals for this project are to:

  1. Create and capture momentum for affordable housing development by community-based organizations through focused attention on a few sites, which may serve as models for future projects.
  2. Bring together members of these communities and development-related professionals to learn about the process, understand the steps involved, and tap into support for bringing projects from vision to reality.
  3. Identify barriers to development with the goal of streamlining the process.
  4. Determine financing mechanisms to fund development of affordable housing.
  5. Create a guide for organizations to follow as they pursue future development projects.

Project background

Over the past few decades, faith institutions across the country have been declining. This has prompted conversations within different faith communities about how to refocus their mission of social change. The housing affordability crisis in many cities around the country has brought these institutions into the work of creating affordable housing in their communities.

A demolished brick building. There is caution tape in front of the debris.
Portsmouth Union Church demolished a portion of their building and bell tower to create 10,000 square feet of land for future affordable housing.

Several congregations in Portland are already involved in developing affordable housing. In 2010, Rivergate Community Church on N Lombard Street sold part of its property at a significant discount to Habitat for Humanity, which used the land to build 12 new affordable homes. Portsmouth Union Church is currently in the process of developing underutilized land on their site for affordable rental housing.

In April 2017, Living Cully (along with five faith communities) organized a conference at Warner Pacific College to discuss how faith and community-based organizations could address the enormous housing need. More than 50 participants attended the event, and many more organizations expressed interest.

With these efforts underway, there is increasing momentum to push the collective work forward faster to meet Portland’s housing needs. The City pursued a grant to fund work with community-based organizations to identify and create opportunities for affordable housing on their land. Metro recognized this need and funded the project, which formally started in April 2018 with City Council’s acceptance of the grant.

A 3D rendering of an apartment complex. The buildings are brown and white, with a sidewalk and trees in front.
Rendering of the 20-unit one- and two-bedroom apartment building to be developed by Portsmouth Union Church.


The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has contracted with several community partners to assist with different components of the scope of work:

Other partners include Housing Development Corporation (HDC)Catholic CharitiesPortland Community Reinvestment Initiatives (PCRI)Heritage Bank, and Rose CDC.

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) includes these partners and City staff from Development Services, Environmental Services, Housing, Planning and Sustainability, Prosper Portland and the Joint Office of Homeless Services, as well as Metro.

Project steps and timeline

The Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing grant is an 18-month project, which will be completed in spring 2020. There may be future opportunities for work with community-based organizations resulting from the initial design and finance consultation work made possible by this grant.

  • Comment period for Discussion Draft: October 28 through December 2, 2019
  • Comment period for Proposed Draft: January 2 through February 11, 2020
  • Project briefing to Planning and Sustainability Commission: January 14, 2020, at 12:30 pm
  • Public hearing before Planning and Sustainability Commission: February 11, 2020, at 12:30 pm
  • The Recommended Draft will be released in early April 2020
  • The public hearing before City Council will be in May 2020

How to submit comments

The Expanding Opportunities for Affordable Housing Proposed Draft will be considered by the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). The public is invited to submit formal comments (called public testimony) to the PSC in writing, in person at a public hearing, or online via the Map App. Testimony on the Proposed Draft is directed to the PSC, which may amend the proposal and subsequently vote to recommend the changes to Portland City Council. This is called the Recommended Draft, and the public will have an opportunity to testify on that draft when it is reviewed by City Council.

Learn more about the Proposed Draft and how to submit public comments.

Project contact information

Nan Stark, City Planner