|Date:||Thu, 28 Oct 1999 14:40:00 -0700 (PDT)|
|Subject:||RE: [CPEO-BIF] Urban-Growth Boundaries & Housing Affordability:=20|
[Alan Hipolito from the Urban League in Portland asked me to forward this to the Brownfields Internet Forum] Tony, =20 Interesting stuff. I'd like to lay a couple of things out for your=20 consideration, although I'll preface these remarks by saying that I've not read the report, and am familiar only with the quotes in your email to Joey Lyons. I am not going to deny that we have a shortage of affordable housing in POrtland; it is a very serious problem. =20 HOwever, my understanding is that most cities in the country are=20 experiencing severe shortages in affordable housing (I recall reports of the long waiting lists for HUD/Section 8 Housing). So, the issue is not whether POrtland lacks affordable housing; rather, it is to what degree does the Urban Growth Boundary bear responsibility for that shortage. As I said, I've not read this report, but earlier ones (I believe) were inconclusive -- maintaining that the boundary likely has some effect, but in concert with the other, possibly more significant factors that influence housing affordability in other areas. =20 =20 Additionally, I think it is important to look at the source of data. For example, Portland (and other Oregon cities) are often included at or near the top of an annual ranking of housing affordability. Upon closer examination, one discovers that the publishers of that annual ranking are homebuilders associations. Indeed, there are other reasons to be skeptical of the rankings' accuracy, as (for example) cities with very similar housing costs and median area incomes (e.g., Portland and Salt Lake City) somehow achieve very different rankings. =20 Again, I'm not saying we don't have a housing affordability problem in=20 Portland; we really, really do. And, it's reasonable to presume that an artificial constraint on the availability of land -- such as an Urban Growth Boundary -- can have a negative impact on housing=20 affordability. The difficulty arises when a focus on the Boundary serves to deflect attention away from other factors also known to have this negative impact. =20 Finally, there is another aspect of this picture that is incomplete. First, let us recognize that other types of smartgrowth efforts -- infill development, lightrail construction, brownfields cleanup, and other reinvestments in low income communities -- can dramatically inflate housing values and rents and displace low income people and people of color. A challenge is also an opportunity. Correspondingly, a great deal of the non-profit sector's Smartgrowth efforts in POrtland have endeavored to use the regional planning process as a solution to affordable housing problems (and, in our case, an anti-gentrification tool), and these regional solutions could be more effective than the "stick all the affordable housing in one place" approach utilized elsewhere. These groups have had some successes. Initially, METRO's (our regional government) 2040 Plan (meant to guide the growth of the region until that date) contained no reference to affordable housing. Because of collaborative advocacy from the COaltion for a Livable Future and others, the 2040 Plan now devotes an entire chapter to affordable housing as a regional issue, including such things as setting fair share targets for each of the region's jusrisdictions, thereby trying to avoid the situation where a person of lesser means cannot afford to live in the area that otherwise sees fit to allow them to work at the stores, offices, etc serving those people who do live that area. =20 As I've said before to you and Tori, I think that Smartgrowth is the key environmental justice issue for the foreseeable future; accordingly, I'm not out to minimize the real risks that Smartgrowth presents to environmental justice communities. If Ej groups and other traditional civil rights organizations meaningfully engage this process, and in doing so create opportunities for low income people and people of color to access and impact the that process, then a real potential exists to correct the disproportionate, negative environmental impacts suffered by inner city residents and prevent those residents' displacement from that valuable inner city land. =20 Thanks for letting me rant. =20 Alan =20 =20 Alan Hip=F3lito Director, Environmental Programs Urban League of Portland 10 North Russell Portland, OR 97227 Ph: 503/280-2628 Fx: 503/281-2612 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To read CPEO's archived Brownfields messages visit http://www.cpeo.org/lists/brownfields If this email has been forwarded to you and you'd like to subscribe, please send a message to email@example.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ _____________________________________________________________ Got a Favorite Topic to Discuss? Start a List at Topica. http://www.topica.com/t/4
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