Portland/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on February 27, 2024
Multnomah County Expands Tax Breaks for Affordable Housing Development in PortlandSource: City of Portland

In a pivotal decision poised to shape Portland's skyline and living options, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has extended a crucial incentive program to encourage developers to include affordable housing in their projects. In a split 3-2 vote last Thursday, the commissioners agreed to offer tax exemptions to those willing to commit a percentage of new apartment buildings to lower-income residents. This move amplifies a city policy already in place, casting a wider net for development areas that can benefit from it.

The revised Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption (MULTE) program, which previously favored projects within Portland's Central City, now promises full property tax exemptions for residential units in this high-cost area and extends a partial tax exemption to affordable units in other neighborhoods. As reported by DJC Oregon, Portland Housing Bureau development incentives manager Dory Hellyer clarified that developers must hold units at 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) for 99 years to qualify for these benefits.

Under the conditions of the MULTE expansion, which ties into Portland’s inclusionary housing policy, new apartment developers must either reserve 20 percent of units for households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI or 10 percent for those at 60 percent of the AMI, as outlined in an article by OPB. For a family of four, these figures translate to maximum yearly incomes of approximately $90,000 and $60,000, respectively.

While the policy expansion has its critics, the county board's recent action underscores Portland's ongoing struggle with housing affordability. According to a report by Oregon Live, the two opposing commissioners expressed concerns regarding the absence of caps on the tax breaks, potentially leaving the program's financial impact on the county's budget unchecked.