Merkley, Wyden Announce Senate Passage of Critical Affordable Housing and Transportation Infrastructure Investments for Oregon
Federal investments included in the Fiscal Year 2024 Senate funding bill champion affordable housing, small ports, and more
Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced major investments passed the Senate to expand affordable, rural, and veterans housing options and boost transportation infrastructure, including funding for 20 critical community-initiated projects across the state.
The investments were included in the FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, which cleared the chamber with strong bipartisan support.
“As I held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties this year, I heard firsthand from folks about what matters most to them, including the need to take on the affordable housing crisis, build drought resilience, and move the state faster toward a renewable energy future,” Merkley said. “The funding included in these bills for programs and critical community-initiated projects will benefit Oregonians in every corner of the state for years to come, and I will keep championing them in Congress until they become law.”
“Wherever I go in our state, teachers, nurses, firefighters, veterans and other hardworking Oregonians tell me about the urgent need for housing they can afford,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified to have teamed up with communities across Oregon on these federal funds to work toward those housing goals as well as equally crucial objectives that invest in transportation infrastructure, green energy and more.
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which wrote the bill and is one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.
Senators Merkley and Wyden secured investments for a total of 20 Oregon community-initiated projects in the Senate THUD spending bill, which are as follows:
- $5 million for TriMet to construct a new facility that will be a critical hub for powering and maintaining hundreds of zero-emissions busses, key to achieving TriMet’s commitment to a zero-emissions fleet by 2040.
- $4 million for the City of North Bend to help demolish the old Coos County annex and construct affordable workforce housing for critically needed workers in education, public safety, logistics, and the healthcare industry.
- $4 million for the Port of Hood River to help replace the Hood River/White Salmon Bridge. This lifeline across the Columbia River is almost 100 years old, inadequately sized, and dangerous to both bridge users and the river traffic that passes between its narrowly placed piers. Funding will cover early-phase costs of the project, including right-of-way acquisition and mitigation for impacts to tribal fishing access during construction, with the goal of breaking ground in 2025.
- $4 million for the Port of Portland to complete necessary infrastructure improvements to redevelop the Port’s former Marine Terminal 2 into a housing innovation campus. This will become a housing hub for innovators to collaborate on ways to address the affordable housing crisis by improving the housing construction industry and creating more housing options. The Innovation Campus is expected to create about 17,000 good-paying jobs for rural, urban, and BIPOC communities and work to provide housing for working families and those on fixed incomes.
- $3 million for the Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation to develop affordable housing in The Dalles on Chenowith Loop. The 75-unit building will provide housing and services to veterans, families, and households experiencing severe and persistent mental health challenges.
- $2 million for the City of Portland to help with construction costs for its Barbur Apartments project in Southwest Portland. This development will offer 149 family-focused affordable rental units between one and four bedrooms, serving extremely low and low-income households.
- $2 million for Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives Inc for its project to provide 75 units of multigenerational, affordable rental housing on the historic Williams and Russel block in inner Northeast Portland to help reverse displacement of BIPOC and low-income families who owned property and lived in the neighborhood before their homes were unjustly taken from them by the City fifty years ago.
- $1.565 million for DevNW to build 54 Community Land Trust (CLT) affordable homes in Corvallis. The homes will be 2-3 bedrooms and sold to low-to-moderate income families. The homes will be permanently affordable for subsequent Oregon homebuyers, helping to address the urgent affordable housing crisis in Benton County.
- $1.5 million for Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity to construct 15 permanently affordable townhomes for workforce families. Due to soaring home prices in Central Oregon, workforce families are being priced out of the housing market. With this permanent affordability model, this investment supports not only these 15 homes and families, supporting each family who lives in the homes in perpetuity. After the completion of this project, Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity will have built 230 homes in Bend and Redmond since 1989, 71 of which are permanently affordable.
- $1.5 million for the Pendleton Children’s Center to purchase and renovate a building next to their current facility in Pendleton to provide more space for childcare. Affordable, reliable, and high-quality childcare is much needed in Pendleton and is necessary to allow parents to join the workforce or to further their own education. The center’s goal is to help address this issue by enrolling a total of 150 children, in comparison to the current 36.
- $1.5 million for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School to complete a two-acre mass timber community redevelopment called the Sunrise Learning Center. The property is in the diverse and economically disadvantaged Rockwood district. It will serve as a hub for small, locally owned businesses and community organizations, educational facilities for vulnerable youth, and affordable housing designed in collaboration with the community.
- $1 million for Neighborhood House, Inc.—Portland’s largest food pantry on the west side and the only senior center in Southwest Multnomah County— for construction costs to renovate a newly-acquired building. This project will allow for program expansion, including developing a consortium of food providers that will serve as a centralized hub for combating hunger through shared resources and greater efficiency.
- $900,000 for the City of Forest Grove for their project to install three 100 KW solar arrays at community facilities. This will reduce energy costs for low-income customers while reducing fossil gas dependence and combatting economic inequity.
- $775,000 toward construction for the relocation and expansion of the Ella Curran Food Bank in Polk County. This project will allow the Food Bank to continue to serve as a safety net against hunger and food insecurity amid increasing community need.
- $750,000 for Williams & Russell Community Development Corporation (CDC) for its project to construct a 20-unit townhouse style condominium development that will be affordable to families and prioritizes housing Black community members as an effort to foster restorative justice for their displacement from this block 50 years ago.
- $650,000 for the City of Sutherlin to acquire and develop a 13-acre parcel and 17,000-sq. foot building to provide emergency shelter and supportive, wrap around services to address health, financial, or other barriers to securing stable housing for people experiencing homelessness in Sutherlin, Oregon.
- $500,000 for the African Youth & Community Organization (AYCO) to go toward finalizing construction of a community center which will continue providing culturally specific, safe spaces for East African immigrants in Portland.
- $500,000 for Community Action Resource Enterprises, Inc. (CARE) to renovate an existing building to serve as Tillamook County’s first low-barrier navigation center for folks experiencing houselessness. The center will be co-located with employment, support, and case management services.
- $400,000 for the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation for their projects to secure wildlife crossings on I-5 in Southern Oregon, which bisects the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The funding will complete design and engineering for fencing to accompany two high-priority wildlife overcrossings in the region renowned for its remarkable ecology and diverse range of biological resources.
- $220,000 for the Travel Information Council (TIC) to install panels of tribal-approved historical interpretation in 12 safety rest areas in Oregon. Currently, travelers stopping at rest areas in Eastern Oregon along I-84 have access to informational kiosks that feature the Oregon Trail. The funds will be used to update the text of these kiosks to be more accurate and more comprehensively describe the landscapes and the people along the Oregon Trail—both those newly arriving as well as those who had already lived here for millennia.
For quotes from community-initiated project recipients included in the THUD bill, click HERE.
Other key funding in the THUD bill that passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support include:
Affordable Housing: As rural and urban communities across Oregon continue to experience housing crises, the bill includes an increase for affordable housing programs for some of Oregon’s most vulnerable people—low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities, including $8.875 billion for housing unit specific rental assistance. The THUD bill also protects funding for housing programs that benefit the elderly and people with disabilities.
Rural Housing: The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) and Rural Capacity Building Program received $13.5 million and $6 million, respectively. SHOP provides funds for non-profit sweat-equity homebuilders, such as Habitat for Humanity, to cover land purchases and infrastructure costs. The Rural Capacity funds are intended to build the capacity of rural low-income housing non-profits by providing training, information, technical assistance, and financing.
HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing: The program received an additional $30 million to provide rental assistance vouchers for homeless veterans, along with case management and clinical services. This increase will provide additional rental vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness, and when combined with prior year appropriations and available unleased vouchers, has the potential to dramatically reduce veteran homelessness.
Homeless Assistance and Prevention: The THUD bill includes $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, a $275 million increase that will benefit organizations across Oregon. Within that funding, rapid rehousing programs for victims of domestic violence would receive an additional $52 million; homeless youth programs would receive $107 million; and Emergency Solutions Grants—particularly important to the Portland metro area—will receive $290 million to support street outreach, emergency shelter, homelessness prevention, and rapid re-housing assistance.
HOME Investment Partnerships Program: The THUD bill includes $1.5 billion for the program to provide states and localities with flexible resources to respond to their affordable housing challenges, including rental housing and paths to homeownership for low-income families.
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: The program, also known as NeighborWorks America, received $168 million in the bill. The national nonprofit offers support for affordable housing and community development through public-private partnerships.
Community Development: The bipartisan THUD bill includes $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program. This program funds vital housing rehabilitation, supportive services, public improvements and economic development projects in communities across Oregon and the nation while encouraging local investment.
Now the bill has cleared the Senate, it will next head to the U.S. House of Representatives. The final legislation to emerge from the process must then be passed by both chambers before it is signed into law.
Senators Merkley and Wyden urge the House to take up the legislation without delay to keep vital government systems and programs running and invest in targeted projects needed in communities across Oregon.
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