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Housing Bond - Housing Bureau improved communication, needs more time to reach intended populations

News Article
Audit Update Image - Photo of Willamette River and Downtown Portland Skyline
This is a one-year follow-up to our 2019 report, "Portland Housing Bond: Early implementation results mostly encouraging."

The Housing Bureau made progress toward recommendations to improve implementation of a $258.4 million housing bond approved by voters in 2016 to invest in affordable housing. 

Our 2019 audit found the Bureau established project selection criteria in a policy framework that was consistent with most promises to voters. Voters approved an emphasis that included seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, but veterans were left out of the framework altogether. Seniors and people with disabilities were only included as subgroups in the framework. The audit also found that project selection criteria appeared to be applied consistently, and outreach aimed at getting tenants into affordable units used a targeted approach, with some data showing bond projects serving diverse populations.

Recommendation Status: In Process

2019 Recommendation

The Housing Bureau should emphasize ballot measure commitments in addition to the framework criteria and report on service to those priority communities. 

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: Recommendation in process

Seven additional housing projects were already out for bid by the time the audit was issued in June 2019, and the Bureau has not solicited any new projects since then. Bureau management said future solicitations and reporting will explicitly include all the communities identified in the ballot measure. 

An annual report on bond progress published in early 2020 noted that one of those projects will target seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, and gave demographic information for two existing projects that included information on seniors and people with disabilities.

Recommendation Status: Implemented

2019 Recommendation

In documenting and communicating bond decisions, provide specific information about the underlying rationale for the decisions.

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: Recommendation implemented

The Housing Bureau produced an annual report, quarterly newsletters, and a press release to inform the public and other stakeholders of bond activities. The Bureau’s project descriptions on the housing bond website make the rationale for each project clearer than we found in our 2019 audit. The Bureau also developed new reporting templates to be used in quarterly reporting to its Bond Oversight Committee. 

Recommendation Status: In Process

2019 Recommendation

Evaluate the effectiveness of the new approach to reaching target populations for bond projects that are not City-owned. 

2020 Auditor’s Status Update: In process

It is too soon for the Housing Bureau to evaluate how effective the new approach to reaching target populations has been. The Bureau said it is drafting documents to monitor progress toward serving populations prioritized in the ballot measure and policy framework, which should be available in September 2020.

Visit our website to view the original 2019 audit report.

Visit our online dashboard to track the status of recommendations from other reports


Martha Prinz

Performance Auditor II