BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are considering a number of ways to create more affordable housing, as the housing crisis drags on. They’ve already agreed to waive city System Development Charges (SDCs) for qualifying projects. Now, City Manager Eric King says they are discussing other ways to encourage builders to develop affordable housing.
"This is a real big focus for council," King tells KBND. "One big advantage we have over any other city in the state is that we have an affordable housing fee. So, any time anyone takes out a building permit, a percentage of the fee they pay for that permit goes into a fund. And, it generates close to a million dollars per year." King adds, "That fund then gets redistributed to projects that build affordable housing. So we, probably two or three times a year, grant money. And, we just did that probably a month ago, where we enabled, I would say, upwards of 50 or 60 affordable housing units to be built."
This week, Councilors agreed to look at how they can increase that affordable housing fund. "There was no decision, but there was an interest amongst council members to look at generating more revenue to put into that affordable housing fund. To do that, it would mean raising that, it’s a percent that gets applied to that fee. It’s a balancing act, but it’s something that council was interested in looking at because, as they mentioned, it was reduced during the recession." But, King admits it’s a balancing act so they don’t stifle all development.