Following roughly a year of HBA advocacy alongside a coalition of partners, Portland City Council voted unanimously to approve a host of housing-related reforms and regulatory roll backs aimed at incentivizing housing production. SDC Waiver Program Expanded to 120% MFI. On Tuesday, January 30, following testimony from HBA’s Preston Korst and Justin Wood, Portland’s City Council voted unanimously to approve a temporary increase to the income thresholds for city’s HOLTE and SDC Waiver program, allowing up to 120% MFI for households qualifying for homeownership projects. This will help expand the pool of buyers that can purchase homes built by developers accessing affordable housing incentives. The change applies to all applications received by PHB prior to March 1, 2024, and will need to be sold prior to July 1, 2026. This was an emergency ordinance, but may take PHB staff a month to fully implement. Here’s the emergency ordinance. Housing Regulatory Relief Package Passes. After nearly a year of advocacy and engagement with BDS, BPS, and individual commissioners, City Council voted to approve major portions of the Housing Regulatory Relief Project. The regulatory rollbacks were initiated by a 2023 BDS Survey of developers that identified dozens restrictive policies hindering housing production. Among 15 specific code changes, this package includes a reduction of bike parking requirements (including a permanent removal of the alcove requirement), automatic level-reduction of all residential design review requirements, increased land use vesting designations from 3 to 5 years, and temporary removal of non-conforming upgrades and first-floor active use rules. Unfortunately, following testimony of over 40 people, HBA included, council did reject three amendments proposed by Commissioner Rene Gonzalez that would have removed Eco-Roof, Bird-glazing, and neighbor sign-postage rules. Still, this is a historic win for developers and will make it more affordable to build in Portland. See all of the changes to code here. Inclusionary Housing Tax Exemption Benefit Increased. Council also approved an ordinance to increase incentives for builders participating in the Inclusionary Housing program, (typically for projects over 20 units). Builders can now access a full-building 10-year tax abatement in more neighborhoods, if projects meet 60% MFI thresholds. While the original program already allowed a similar incentive for projects built in the downtown core, it previously excluded Slabtown and inner-eastside neighborhoods from accessing the benefit. Following an IH Calibration Study, council moved to expand that benefit to apply to all IH projects built in a dozen surrounding neighborhoods, areas that have seen more significant growth in recent years. Read more about the program change, and access the new IH map. This will be a big lift for developers constructing needed housing in high-value areas, helping make it more financially feasible to actually add units to a proposed residential development.