News Flash

Planning & Urban Development

Posted on: March 24, 2022

Portland Joins National Effort To Advance Health And Equity Through Housing Policy

Newsflash 2022

The City of Portland is pleased to announce its selection to a nationally-funded initiative for small and midsize cities to develop innovative, equitable local housing solutions. The Housing Solutions Lab Peer Cities Network will advance evidence-based solutions that address pressing housing challenges, with a specific focus on racial and health equity. Led by an interdisciplinary team from the New York University Furman Center with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Network will support city leaders as they design policy to tackle issues including housing insecurity and homelessness, affordable housing production and preservation, and fair housing and neighborhood investment. While large coastal cities often receive the majority of policy attention for their housing challenges, the Peer Cities Network is exclusively for cities with fewer than 500,000 residents.  Learn more about the Housing Solutions Lab.

“The timing of joining the Housing Solutions Lab Peer Cities Network could not be better - having an opportunity to tap the Lab’s rich resources and to learn from the experiences of our peer communities can only enhance Portland’s efforts to respond to its current housing challenges”, said Christine Grimando, the City of Portland’s Director of Planning & Urban Development. 

Portland was selected to participate in the second cohort of cities, which also includes:

  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Evanston, IL
  • Missoula, MT
  • Pasco, WA
  • Pawtucket/Central Falls, RI
  • Rochester, NY
  • San Marcos, TX

As part of the Peer Cities Network, Portland is looking to further its local housing policy work, which has been a major focus for several years. In the recent past, the City has implemented tools to promote the creation of new housing, provide financial assistance to affordable housing development, support housing of Portland’s homeless population, and encourage higher-density residential development in our transit-accessible and walkable neighborhoods. At the direction of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Portland’s Plan 2030, Portland is looking to holistically advance its housing goals as part of ReCode Portland, the City’s multi-phase initiative to modernize its Land Use Code. ReCode is focused on opening up the potential for new housing opportunities city-wide, with the goal of both increasing and diversifying its housing stock and fostering accessible housing options for all residents. Portland is excited to collaborate with the eight other selected member communities, and welcomes this opportunity to learn, share, and develop meaningful partnerships as we pursue long-lasting housing solutions for the community. 

"Our goal is to meet cities where they’re at— and offer a range of supports that can be customized to meet their unique housing needs," said Martha Galvez, Executive Director of the Housing Solutions Lab. “In joining the Peer Cities Network, Portland Leaders will gain access to a national community of experts, practitioners, and researchers to help them plan and launch strategies that leverage housing to expand opportunity.”

The Housing Solutions Lab provides the following services to cities:

  • Peer networking and support: Network participants will join a national community of peers in small and midsize cities, and an ongoing forum for shared learning, support, and policy innovation.
  • Timely policy resources: Participants will receive timely, actionable policy updates and access to case studies, research, and other resources to inform small and midsize city leaders’ housing-related efforts. 
  • Local housing data: Participants will have access to data describing local housing conditions, trends, and challenges. 
  • Technical assistance and research support: Participants will have access to technical assistance and research expertise to help design, implement, and evaluate local housing policy strategies and solutions. 

Last year, seven cities participated in the first Network cohort: Arlington, TX; Boulder, CO; Cleveland, OH; Jackson, MI; Oakland, CA; Pittsburgh, PA, and Syracuse, NY. After sessions focusing on developing comprehensive, balanced, and equitable local housing strategies, local housing leaders walked away with actionable policy items. 

The selected cities and counties are grappling with a wide range of challenges and market conditions. Yet in every selected city, a significant portion of the population are cost burdened, meaning more than a third of household incomes are spent on housing—and as a result of racialized poverty and segregation, those households are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. The Network will therefore center racial equity in the comprehensive housing strategies pursued.

Through access to the expertise of leading practitioners and researchers, Portland will be an active participant in the conversation about what housing policies work, how to effectively implement them, ways to make cross-sector connections, and strategies to center resident voice and priorities in advancing equitable housing policies.

About the Housing Solutions Lab: The Housing Solutions Lab at the NYU Furman Center helps small and midsize cities plan, launch, and evaluate evidence-based local housing policies that advance racial equity; increase access to opportunity; and improve long-term health and wellbeing for residents.  

About the NYU Furman Center: The NYU Furman Center advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. Established in 1995, it is a joint center of the New York University School of Law and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. More information can be found at furmancenter.org and @FurmanCenterNYU.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

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