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Environmental Services is moving forward with changes to ENB-4.28 regarding the bureau's financial assistance loan programs

News Article
Environmental Services proposes revisions to ENB-4.28 Administrative Rules for Financial Assistance Loan programs, including the income-qualified Safety Net program, to support required connections to the sanitary sewer system and work on private property. The public comment period is now closed.
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What Financial Assistance Programs Are Covered in ENB-4.28?

Administrative Rule ENB-4.28 describes the application process, administrative activities, and loan qualifications for City/Environmental Services' market-rate and Safety Net (low-interest, deferred-payment, income-qualified) loans for sewer conversion charges and plumbing work on private property to connect to the sanitary sewer.

  • The City of Portland offers market-rate loans to property owners for sewer connection charges.
  • Environmental Services offers market-rate loans to property owners to do sewer work on private property necessary to connect to the sanitary sewer.
  • Environmental Services' Safety Net program offers income-qualified, low-interest, and deferred-payment loans for sewer connection charges and sewer work on private property.  

What is Not Changing?

People who were previously eligible for Environmental Services' loans will still be eligible. Expenses that were previously covered will still be covered.

Proposed Changes and Why?

Environmental Services has rewritten much of the rule. Most of the changes are to reorganize the text to make the rule easier to read and understand. The summary below describes the proposed changes. In all cases, the changes expand who and what types of expenses are eligible for Environmental Services' loans.

  1. Expand market rate and Safety Net loans (income-qualified, low-interest, deferred-payment loans) to finance the costs of sanitary sewer dump installation to accommodate permanently occupied recreational vehicles on private property. Why? Offering loans for this work will protect human health and safety by making disposal of sanitary waste affordable and support the City’s affordable housing goals.
  2. Expand Safety Net loans to include financing for emergency sewer repair costs on private property. Why? By offering income-qualified homeowners low-interest, deferred-payment loans for emergency sewer repair, Environmental Services will protect human health and safety by making safe disposal of sanitary waste affordable and prevent potential displacement.
  3. Increase the private property market-rate borrowing limit from $10,000 to $20,000. Why? To align the program with current costs for work and to align with current practice. The borrowing limit in the rule has remained the same since the start of the program in the 1980s.
  4. Change Safety Net eligibility criteria from gross household income of 80 percent median family income or less to 100 percent median family income or less. Changed asset limit from $50,000 to $100,000. Why? The change to 100 percent median family income and the increased cap on the asset limit will make the low-interest rate and deferred-payment Safety Net program loans and connection deferrals available to more people and will minimize penalties for savings.
  5. Add exception for director to approve Safety Net loans for properties other than owner-occupied residential properties. This could allow Environmental Services to provide loans to commercial and rental property owners. Why? There may be a circumstance in which a commercial or rental income property owner can demonstrate financial hardship. By offering the Safety Net loans, the owner may be able to retain the property. These would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  6. Update bureau responsibilities to reflect the Revenue Division role. Why? Because the Auditor’s office no longer has these responsibilities.
  7. Reorganize the rule. Why? For clarity.

Proposed ENB-4.28

Why Are We Making Changes?

These changes support implementation of the Shelter to Housing Continuum Project (S2HC). The S2HC project included changes to City codes to provide more housing options for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing houselessness. The S2HC project was initiated as part of the City’s response to the City Council’s Housing Emergency Declaration in 2015. To expand housing choice, changes to code allow for “one occupied recreational vehicle provided… a sanitary sewer dump is provided on the site.” Tiny homes on wheels often fall under the occupied recreational vehicle definition.

This legislation supports the safe disposal of sanitary sewage by ensuring that the cost of making a sanitary sewer connection doesn’t become a barrier to providing a new affordable housing opportunity or put people at risk of experiencing houselessness.

What Are the Anticipated Impacts?

The proposed changes will make financial assistance available for more activities and in more cases, particularly for income-qualified property owners. Minimal Environmental Services' staffing and financial impacts are anticipated.

Ordinance

An ordinance, authorizing "Environmental Services to offer market rate and Safety Net loans to property owners for sanitary sewer dump installation when that installation is required by City Code Section 29.50.050 and to offer Safety Net loans to income-qualified property owners for repairs on private property to continue sanitary sewer service," will provide the authority for the expanded scope of the rule. The first reading will be at City Council on February 16, 2022.

Comment Period is Closed

Environmental Services accepted public comment on proposed revisions to Administrative Rule ENB-4.28 from Feb. 7 through Mar. 7, 2022. The comment period closed on March 7. Contact bescoderule@portlandoregon.gov with any questions.

For More Information

For questions or more information, contact the Environmental Services Manuals, Code and Rule Team. Contact information on this page.