Our community has an important opportunity to encourage our elected officials across the valley to take bold action on affordable housing.
We took a small but significant step forward Thursday night when the Medford City Council adopted a Construction Excise Tax on new development, with the revenue to go to support affordable housing projects.
This is encouraging, but there is so much more that needs to be done to address housing.
During public testimony, community members shared stories of being priced out and reminded the council that they have a responsibility under Oregon land use goal 10 to provide adequate affordable housing supply for current and future residents at all income levels. Medford Council members admitted last night that the city, like others in the Rogue Valley, is not currently meeting that legal obligation.
Can you email the Medford Council to thank them for passing the Construction Excise Tax, and to ask them to keep moving forward with the many other policy recommendations from the Housing Advisory Committee to address this growing crisis? You can reach the entire council and the mayor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To address local housing needs we will need to increase community input in decision-making and stabilize the rental market while building more of the right kinds of diverse housing in the right places. It will take sustained community action to get there.
What City Councils Can Do As described in this guest opinion that the Rogue Action Center and 1000 Friends of Oregon published in the Mail Tribune, the cities of Medford, Phoenix, Eagle Point, Central Point and Talent are going through a process that could lead to expanding their boundaries to include land that would be profitable for developers to build on.
Before expanding, cities must show that they are meeting their obligation under state land use goal 10 to ensure that they have housing that is affordable for local residents.
Here are a few examples of actions our elected city officials can take:
Pass local renter protections policies such as 90 day notice for evictions or relocation assistance.
Encourage the addition of more cottage-type housing in residential zones.Allow developers to build additional homes — such as going from a duplex to a triplex, or allowing more cottages in a cottage cluster — if some of them are affordable.
Reduce or waive fees for affordable housing projects.
Make it easier for nonprofit affordable housing organizations to help fill the need.
Enact a small construction excise tax to raise funds to support creation of more housing options.
Require that in any development above a certain number of homes or apartments, a certain percentage be affordable using inclusionary zoning.
In the past, local housing policy has been dominated by those with a vested financial interest in the outcome — developers, realtors and large-scale landlords.
Together, we can make sure that working families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and other residents are heard as well.
Here are some ways you can get involved:
1. Contact your mayor and city council members. Tell them we need urgent action on the affordable housing crisis. Click for contact information: Medford Mayor and Council Click for contact information: Talent Mayor and Council Click for contact information: Phoenix Mayor and Council Click for contact information: Ashland Mayor and Council
2. Drop by an Upcoming Housing Happy Hour. Come by and learn more about telling your story at upcoming public hearings to impact cities’ policies on housing, from building more affordable units to stabilizing the rental market and protecting renters’ rights. We'll have light appetizers to share. Talent - Friday, March 2nd, 5:30pm - 7:00pm at Pump House, 102 Talent Avenue Medford - Friday, March 9th, 5:30pm - 7:00pm at Common Block, 315 E. 5th Street Phoenix - Friday March 16th, 5:30pm - 7:00pm at Los Tres Potrilos, 102 S. Main Street Ashland - Friday, March 23rd, 5:30pm - 7:00pm at Louie's, 41 N. Main Street on the Plaza
3. Be part of the process. Consider joining a city committee or commission or serving on a citizen's advisory council. For help identifying opportunities in your city, email us at email@example.com or call 541-292-8201.
4. Like the Rogue Action Center page on Facebook so you can get the latest information.
5. Donate to support our organizing work on this issue.