The current average home price in Tigard is $661,000 according to Zillow. Since 2014, median house prices have jumped 73% while the median household wage has only gone up 31%. In addition, the shortage of housing inventory, increase in building code regulations, and cultural attitude shift towards renting vs. buying have largely created the housing crisis we are seeing today.
However, there are ways to counteract this trend and help alleviate the pressure of lack of affordable housing in Tigard.
Emergency Shelter and Affordable Housing
According to the July 2022 City of Tigard Report Card, there are currently 864 affordable housing units in Tigard with an additional 524 units being added. With a goal of 2,500 total units, this number falls far short. The city’s goal falls even shorter than the current total estimated need for affordable housing which is 4,600 total units. This number will continue to grow until we change our approach and give people a hand up instead of a handout.
Limit regulations for new builds
To encourage the building of new emergency shelters and affordable housing units, we must limit regulations for new buildings of this nature. Many regulations that have been added in the last 10 years have been implemented for environmental sustainability purposes, not safety. While a noble goal, these regulations and policies have left the most vulnerable behind by increasing the costs of projects which drives up the cost of affordable housing.
System Development Costs (SDCs) are also a large cost to any new construction project. SDCs are a one-time fee that is paid by the developers to the city to allow hook-ups to the city’s sewage and water infrastructure. In Tigard, this cost is $52,500 for every new house built. This cost is then added on to the total cost of the house. To combat this, we must lower SDCs in the city of Tigard to incentivize new housing projects.
Additionally, the length and process for permitting new projects has also added unnecessary costs to new construction of this nature. We must prioritize and streamline the steps for greenlighting new projects and ensuring affordable housing needs can be met in a timely manner.
Emergency shelters and affordable housing must also include wrap-around services. As a city, we want to make sure that our most at-risk residents have access to the services they need to help them succeed. This includes mental health counseling, job training, childcare, and caseworkers. The goal is to stabilize participants and help them move up to middle-income housing.
Building Generational Wealth
For emergency shelter and affordable housing to be sustainable, there must be an adequate supply of middle-income housing options. The easiest way for people to build equity and escape the cycle of poverty is to own a home. That may be in the form of condos, duplexes, townhomes, or any type of “starter” home.
However, those types of housing are in short supply, especially in Oregon and within the Tigard city limits. The focus over the last twenty years has been building apartment complexes that charge a monthly rent. While apartment complexes fill a housing need, they mostly benefit the developers but do not help with creating generation wealth for the citizens of our community.
Support River Terrace Land Swap
As mayor, I support the River Terrace land swap proposed by Metro. This would allow the land that is across from River Terrace and currently outside the Urban Growth Boundary to be annexed sooner. Under the current exchange plans, Metro would swap the Tigard land for land in Damascus to be annexed at a later date. The reason for this swap is that River Terrace is already in the works and the second phase of building prioritizes building more middle-income housing including cottages, townhomes, and duplexes.
As mayor, I will ensure that the city and county follow through on building true middle-income housing. This means making sure that housing prices remain affordable. Additionally, I will advocate for a percentage of new market houses that are reserved for first-time home buyers.
Improving Infrastructure to Create a Thriving Community
The single biggest complaint for adding new housing is the impact on infrastructure. Tigard is notoriously behind on expansions of our current infrastructure and it is seen and felt by everyone, not just Tigard residents. Our streets are currently too small and Highway 99 has been an unsolvable and nagging problem for years.
To combat these issues, as mayor I will prioritize road and infrastructure improvements that allow us to expand and add additional housing units. I will lobby Washington County to secure Tigard’s share of infrastructure funds in addition to allocating funds into appropriate projects. It is imperative that we also plan for the future. Any adopted and implemented infrastructure plans must also take into account growth for the next 50 years. This will ensure we can accommodate adequate growth for years to come.
Proper Commercial and Mixed Use Planning
More and more mixed-use developments are being added throughout Tigard that include residential residences on the upper floors and commercial spaces on the first floor.
The intention is to add restaurants and create a community within these spaces. However, many new mixed-use complexes do not account for restaurants during the building phase and do not include proper ventilation shafts into the design and construction of the building. This would require a prospective new restaurant to add this infrastructure which could be a cost of upwards of $200,000 to add.
A thriving community begins at the planning stage as this is a barrier to entry for any restaurant looking to start in Tigard. The city must build rapport with developers and be actively involved in the design and development process. This is a matter of future planning that cannot be overlooked.
The Final Piece
More needs to be done on a state level to impact Tigard and our surrounding areas. As mayor, I intend to use my platform to lobby the state and county to streamline section 8 approvals in addition to rallying nonprofits to replace state-funded housing projects. As a city, we can take the necessary step of adding more units but to properly solve the housing crisis, we must pressure the state for necessary changes that will affect our community at large.