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Friday, May 11, 2007

Roundup will not kill them

New real estate scams are popping up like bamboo shoots in Portland this week.

Willamette Week had this one on Wednesday. We pointed out this one in the O the same day. And now there's this one in today's Trib.

Neil's gone -- his PDC crew and Vera, too -- but the beat goes on.

Comments (8)

Stuff like this is why I think the best wwy ot deal with low income housing is vouchers. Have developers build at market costs and provide the low income with vouchers to make up the difference between what they can afford and market rates. Require that all landlords take renters with vouchers, and hold the renters to the same rules as someone paying all cash. Their portion of the rent must be on time, etc.

Eric's idea is too logical to work.

I agree, it'd be too difficult to skim off the top with the level of transparency Eric's plan could afford.

Great idea Eric ;)

I read the WW article and I thought, "A new developer on the gravy train. A new pillar of the status quo. A new source for campaign contributions."

The article does demonstrate a desire on the PDC's part for enlarging the circle of "PDC approved developers".

The enticement, bait, or reward for this type of development is huge.

In a way, this "process" is what big city politics has been about across America, but Portland was supposed to be different.

Not so. Although, in the bad old days, city fathers had no "progressive" objectives that justified the favortism. Today, many progressives justify it because their "noble causes" are being favored, therefore, they have no problem with this kind of "graft".

Meanwhile, The Oregonian is the shield and spear for this kind of favortism.

There is a Portland elite that benefits from the current setup.

Fans of open government, please do not fall for the siren song..."That my ideals are being promoted by this crony capitalism, so I'm O.K. with it."

It's wrong to have personal enrichment at the expense of the general public, even if certain "noble" causes seem to be fulfilled.

For the fat cats, it's not the noble cause, it's the money...and remember it's your money.

Eric's idea is the Housing Choice Voucher Program - also known as Section 8. It's one of the most successful housing subsidy programs in the nation and though it has always lacked the necessary $ to reach everyone in need, it has been steadily defunded by the Bush administration.

Clackamas County, for instance, has a four year waiting list. You can't even get on the Multnomah County list unless you wait until they open it - which I believe is for a week or two maybe once a year. I don't know how long it takes once you do get on the waiting list there.

Despite (Ellington developer) Brenneke's claim that his 2-BR units are affordable because they are $100 "below market" at $729 per month, these units would not be eligible for Section 8 housing assistance, in my understanding.

HUD has designated a 2007 Fair Market Rate (FMR) of $737 for a 2-BR unit for the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA MSA. But FMRs are gross rent estimates. They include the shelter rent plus the cost of all utilities, except telephones. Unless folks can get electric, heat, sewer and water for $8 a month, the Ellington is too high priced to qualify for Section 8.

I'm not really sure how the Trib determined that $729 for a 2-BR apartment is what "the federal government considers 'affordable'" though. If they are referring to the FMRs, they're incorrect in saying this is what the feds consider affordable.

From HUD's website:

HUD sets FMRs to assure that a sufficient supply of rental housing is available to program participants. To accomplish this objective, FMRs must be both high enough to permit a selection of units and neighborhoods and low enough to serve as many low-income families as possible. The level at which FMRs are set is expressed as a percentile point within the rent distribution of standard-quality rental housing units. The current definition used is the 40th percentile rent, the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard-quality rental housing units are rented.

The Section 8 program subsidizes shelter costs so that recipients do not pay more than 30% of their monthly adjusted (not gross) income for rent and utilities.

In the case of HUD at least, 30% of your adjusted income is what is considered "affordable" for shelter costs. NOT the FMR, and certainly NOT $100 less than competetive market rates.

"New real estate scams are popping up like bamboo shoots in Portland this week."

This is a great similie and I love the general metaphor: Land scams root deep and thrive in our native soil, they have for generations.

And these are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg-just wait till someone scoops a scam involving lawyers,judges and cops; they're out there and more prevalent than many would like to believe.

HUD has designated a 2007 Fair Market Rate (FMR) of $737 for a 2-BR unit for the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA

Damn! Im getting a deal then. I only pay $695 for a 3-bdrm townhouse in Beaverton! I have lived in this place for almost 14 years, and the rent hasnt gone up in ten...
Its not the greatest neighborhood, but its not terrible either.

Vouchers, definitely.

Also think we need to lay some new state lawz on this whole development scam business. Jail time, definitely.

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