Affordable Housing Ordinance Revisions

Portland’s Plan, the city’s new comprehensive plan, identifies the affordability and supply of housing as one of the city’s most challenging issues.  As part of a broad effort to address this challenge, the city has recently developed a set of proposed changes to the affordable housing ordinance, Division 30.  The City Council’s Housing Committee forwarded these staff-developed amendments to the Planning Board this spring.  They are now being reviewed by the city’s Planning Board.  

How do I get involved?

Whether you are a neighbor, a developer, or an advocate, the City of Portland wants your input on these proposed affordable housing incentives.  There are several ways to get involved:

Why Amend Division 30?

The city’s existing land use ordinance provides some incentives for affordable housing development, including density and dimensional bonuses, and reductions in parking requirements and review fees.  However, these incentives have had modest effect on the city’s supply of affordable housing.  The proposed amendments to Division 30 are designed to encourage further housing creation, particularly in the city’s priority growth areas, by increasing density, dimensional, and height bonuses for affordable housing projects in certain zones.  These bonuses should make affordable housing developers more competitive in terms of purchasing sites and securing public funding.  

What do the Amendments Do?

The proposed amendments essentially encourage affordable housing with two incentives: 

1. Depending on the proportion of low-income or workforce housing planned, residential projects in certain commercial and mixed-use zones (the B-1 and B-1b; B-2 and B-2b; B-3, B-3b, and B-3c; B-4; B-5; R-7; and R-P zones) with affordable housing components would qualify for: 
  • Density bonuses of up to 2.5 times the base density
  • Increased building heights up to 25 feet
  • Decreased front, side, and/or rear yard setback

2.  Planned Residential Unit Developments (PRUDs) in the R-3 and R-5 zones in which half of the units are designated as low-income or workforce housing would be eligible for a density bonus of 2 times the base density and decreased setbacks.  

Projects taking advantage of any of these incentives would be required to maintain the units as affordable for the longest term permitted under federal, state, and local law.