June 26, 2024

Merkley, Wyden Announce $5 million for Affordable Housing Efforts in Bend

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is awarding the City of Bend a total of $5 million in federal funding to support the city’s efforts to enhance affordable housing accessibility through planning, infrastructure improvements, development, and preservation activities.

“Ensuring access to safe and affordable housing is key to creating thriving communities, but I hear from Oregonians during my town halls in every corner of the state about the struggles they are face due to the severe shortage of housing resources and the intense pressure of the housing crisis,” said Merkley. “This federal investment will offer essential support for Bend as it works to overcome its affordable housing shortage. I will continue to advocate for the affordable housing resources Oregonians need to live safe and healthy lives.”

“In my 1,000+ town halls statewide, I regularly hear from Oregonians about the need for affordable housing, and I expect the topic will come up again at my town halls Thursday in Deschutes and Crook counties,” Wyden said. “I’m glad this federal investment in Bend will be part of the comprehensive blueprint needed to build solutions along with expanding housing tax credits for low-income and middle-income people in Central Oregon and statewide. Every Oregonian deserves a safe place to call home that isn’t hours away from where they work.”

Today’s funding comes through HUD’s Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) program, which was established to address critical housing supply needs and to support communities in their efforts to remove barriers to affordable housing. Bend is one of 21 awardees across 19 states and the District of Columbia to receive this funding from fiscal year 2023.

Specifically, the City of Bend will use the $5 million investment to lead a multi-year, multi-organizational and agency project to identify and address barriers that have resulted in historic underproduction of affordable housing and a widespread housing cost burden in the city. This work will lead to an increase in new construction for affordable workforce housing through three main actions:

  1. Remove systemic barriers through planning within the city’s control
  2. Increase housing production through streamlined processes and incentives that are within the City’s control while still operating within Oregon’s land use system
  3. Fund the construction of new units

“Bend is thankful for this grant opportunity, and ready to lean into production of more affordable housing. We’re grateful for the incredible network of partners who supported our application, including Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden, and are eager to get to work creating housing opportunities for the community members who need it most,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Megan Perkins.