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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 17, 2006 4:47 PM. The previous post in this blog was Portland's future?. The next post in this blog is OMG. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

More PDC math: $48K per apartment

Some more startling numbers in today's O story on affordable housing:

Since 1998, the city has spent $107 million on affordable housing, the report said. That's about 16 percent of all redevelopment spending within the city's 11 urban renewal districts. The cash comes from taxes paid on rising property values within the districts.

For that cash, the city helped developers build 2,212 apartments and condos.

That's $48,372.51 per apartment that the taxpayers paid. Geez, over the past eight years, how much has it cost to build a low-income apartment? It seems like an awfully high contribution from the public, and a low one from the developers.

I can't believe the good old boys don't want in on that one.

Comments (1)

Look on the bright side: the city doesn't just build "affordable housing", it also builds "market rate" housing. Headwaters, the SW 30th/Barbur development, will have over 100 apartments that the City rep called "market-rate" at $800-$1k/mo. These apartments are not intended to be "affordable" nor subsidized. They are intended to compete with regular marketplace apartments.

When asked why the City was building apartments for people who weren't poor, the response was staggering: "We want to prove we can do it." That's pretty good logic when you think about it--as long as you don't think about it.

Posted by: Anahit at August 17, 2006 05:18 PM

Wow! If you buy a class B/C apartment used it is only about $60K per unit.

Posted by: Steve at August 17, 2006 06:00 PM

PDC dosen't DO math...never did...next!!!

Posted by: anne at August 17, 2006 06:26 PM

bull's eye Anne

Posted by: Steve Schopp at August 17, 2006 06:45 PM

If the planners and politicians do not address the height/density issues, and at least ask the voters (the true financiers of this density) how they feel about this abrupt change to our city in the very near future (six months); then it is time for a citywide referendum on the height/density issue. It has been done in other cities, it is now time for us to demand it or do it.

The natural topographic scale of our hills, rivers, neigborhoods is being lost. And density (if that is what we want to this extent) can be achieved in other means than this loss of what is historically and geograhically Portland.

Many of us have been preaching in the past years that our politicians, developers, planners do not realize what will and is being created. We've tried, now we must demand reconsideration before it is too late.

Posted by: Jerry at August 17, 2006 10:13 PM

What is a reasonable amount per apartment/condo, per square foor, or whatever the appropreiate unit is?

Posted by: Hank at August 17, 2006 10:14 PM

At $200 a foot, a 600 sf apt would cost $120K.

A building serving seniors or disabled people living on their social security checks would basically have to be debt free.

Posted by: D. Licious at August 18, 2006 04:27 AM

"What is a reasonable amount per apartment/condo, per square foor, or whatever the appropreiate unit is?"

If you get really lucky with getting the thing thru permitting in a reasonable time (2 years!) and it is a "basic" (i.e. not a lot of fancy trim unit) about $125/sqft.

Posted by: Steve at August 18, 2006 07:47 AM

At $125, a 600 square foot apartment would cost about $75,000 ($125*600) to build. Assuming the average size of the affordable housing units is 600 feet, then they city is paying about $81 a square foot ($48372.51/600). I don't know if 600 square feet is near the average size, but this back of the envelop number makes the cities cost look cheap. Is that right?

Posted by: Hank at August 18, 2006 08:43 AM


You are looking at a subsidy here, don't forget that the Private Partner, collects rent for 20 years then as in the case of the subsidized UR at McCormik Peir or the "Harrison" is now turning around and selling them as Condos.

Someone should run the economics on that. What it amounts to is for very little capital investment, the Private Partner gets a 20-30 year cash flow which increases with inflation, and an established property to remodel and sell off as condos.

Posted by: Swimmer at August 18, 2006 10:04 AM

"It seems like an awfully high contribution from the public, and a low one from the developers."

The developers are not going to "contribute" to below-cost housing. If forced to build it, they merely increase the cost of the other homes they build. Then existing homesellers, seeing the price of new homes go up, increase their asking prices. The result is almost everyone pays more so a few lucky people can get "affordable" housing.

If we really want to keep housing affordable, get rid of all the land-use rules that half doubled Portlands home prices relative to cities that don't have such rules. Would that lead to urban sprawl? According to an ECONorthwest study commissioned by the Willamette Valley Livability Project (a 1000-Friends spin off), by 2050 under existing rules, 6.6 percent of the Willamette Valley will be urbanized. If we get rid of the rules, then 7.6 percent will be urbanized.

Is unaffordable housing a price we are willing to pay to save 1 percent of the valley? (Of course, if you already own your own home and benefit from artificially high prices, you have a conflict of interest and are disqualified from answering this question.)

Posted by: Randal O'Toole at August 18, 2006 03:08 PM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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