PDX to Invest $150,000 in Failed Housing Policy

Portland’s policy of Inclusionary Zoning makes housing less affordable for families.

By Vlad Yurlov

For Portland’s housing policy, failure isn’t an option. Of course, some policies are downright damaging, but bureaucrats often refuse to admit failure. For instance, Inclusionary Zoning is a policy that requires new apartments with more than 20 units to make a percentage of them affordable to low-income households. The policy also pushes for more affordable family-sized units.

Since the program began in 2017, Inclusionary Zoning only accounted for 237 units. And less than 15% of its affordable units were built for families. A nonprofit organization called Up For Growth rang the alarm bells back in 2019. Its research found that Inclusionary Zoning was reducing high-density housing and had stopped new projects from being attempted. Furthermore, “it raises the cost of housing for middle income families who are not eligible for the few units available.”

Blocking the housing pipeline and increasing the cost of housing is a resounding failure. But, Portland is planning to study Inclusionary Zoning with another $150,000 of tax money. We didn’t vote to rearrange chairs on the Titanic. Portland needs the maturity to acknowledge failure.

Vlad Yurlov is a Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

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Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Jim Greenfield

    Jim Greenfield

    4:40 pm - June 18, 2021


    I am a real estate investor and developer. If the State of Oregon and City of Portland purposely intended to destroy the rental housing market and create the ever-growing homeless crisis we are experiencing now, they would pursue exactly the policies they’ve been pursuing. In looking at politicians it’s difficult to distinguish between misfeasance and malfeasance. In this case we have both. The government’s war on landlords, including charging us thousands of dollars to get rid of bad tenants, and the 15 month long eviction moratorium have destroyed our industry. Thousands of residential real estate investors are heading for the exits to escape this government attack on our livelihood. Although drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness certainly play their role in driving tens of thousands of people into tents on the city’s sidewalks, government policies that create a shortage of rental housing plays a major role as well. If there aren’t enough rental units, big surprise that people end up in the street. A free market in housing could solve this problem. More government bureaucracy will only make it worse. Jim Greenfield, The Decline and Fall of America Starring Jim Greenfield. https://jimgreenfield.fireside.fm

  2. Avatar for Nick Steffanoff

    Nick Steffanoff

    11:27 am - June 20, 2021

    This article is right on. It was obvious from the start that Portland’s Bureau of Planning and the City Council have no understanding of the housing market and therefore adopt utopian policies that are undrealistic. In an effort to dissemitnate the City’s altrusitic qualities it blinds itself to the reality of the construction industry and related housing supply and market. Now we will experience another “bubble” in the housing market as the City frantically treads water trying to play “catch up”.

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