2024 Legislative Session Wrap-Up: Progress on Oregon's Housing Crisis

Posted By: Gary Fisher Central Oregon, Industry News, Mid-Willamette Valley, Portland/SW Washington, SWV News,

With the legislature now adjourned until 2025, the Multifamily NW team is reflecting on the strides made in tackling Oregon's housing crisis this year. With nearly 1,000 members managing over 275,000 units across Oregon and southwest Washington, our association stands at the forefront of advocating for sensible public policy aimed at keeping Oregonians housed.

We believe the 2024 legislative session will go down as a turning point in our state’s efforts to alleviate the housing crisis that so many of our housing providers and residents are navigating. By all accounts, it was also a session marked by success for Multifamily NW’s legislative priorities.

Above all, it was incredibly refreshing to have Gov. Kotek and legislative leadership in both parties on (mostly) the same page regarding a shared vision for housing stability in Oregon. Now that the gavel has come down, here is where the bills we engaged on ended up.

Large-Scale Housing Production & Accountability 

Throughout this session, Multifamily NW has been vocal in its support for SB 1537, recognizing its significance in addressing the state's housing shortage. The bill called for accountability in housing production, investments in housing infrastructure financing, and the ability of cities to expand their urban growth boundaries to build more housing. While legislators ultimately pared down the investments Gov. Kotek was requesting, the bill will be a critical tool in our toolbox in the months and years to come.

Rent Assistance for Vulnerable Oregonians

This session, we were grateful to support an additional $41 million in rent assistance programs (SB 1530). Rent assistance is a top priority for our organization each year, and while the need is always expanding, it represents a tried-and-true solution to housing instability in the near-term. We must continue providing this lifeline to Oregon families trying to make ends meet. This bill also made $65 million investment in shelters and other important homelessness prevention programs.

Improving State Rehousing Programs

SB 1529-2 allows the state to raise the maximum reimbursement each year for eligible costs related to the Housing Choice Guarantee Program (which places homeless Oregonians in vacant units). The low reimbursement cap, for things like property damage, was traditionally a significant barrier to participation in the program due to the financial risk that housing providers assume when participating. 

Setting Sights on 2025

The 2024 legislative session was a success not only because of what we were able to pass, but also because of what we were able to quash before the session picked up steam. Bills that would amend Fair Housing law to include owner-occupied units (SB 1586), repeal prohibition on local rent control (HB 4126), and force housing providers to cover costs associated with missed rent payments due to medical problems (HB 4063) all died by mid-February.

This session the Legislature did not allocate $30 million for affordable housing preservation we were advocating for (HB 5201). Given the passage of HB 3042 in 2023, which prevents affordable housing providers from selling their properties at market for three years after they lose their tax credit status (and continues the lower cap on rent throughout that three-year extension), affordable housing providers are certainly feeling financial pressure as they navigate increasing regulation and increasing costs to provide that housing. 

We’ll continue to keep an eye on these issues and work with legislators through the remainder of 2024 and beyond to ensure our perspective is heard.

Thank You

For now, Multifamily NW extends gratitude to the Legislature for considering our testimony on all these bills and for their commitment to addressing Oregon's housing crisis. We firmly believe that together, we can build a brighter future for all Oregonians by ensuring access to safe, affordable housing for generations to come.