Frequently Asked Questions

What is the N/NE Preference Policy? Find answers to this and other common questions about the Preference Policy Waitlist.
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Program Updates

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some changes to the program in an effort to make the process clearer and easier for applicants. These changes include:

  • PHB has moved! Our offices are currently operating remotely. For assistance, please contact the helpline at 503-823-4147 and leave a voicemail or email us at
    New mailing address and office location:
    *In-person assistance and form drop-off are not available at this time.
    1900 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 7007
    Portland, OR 97201
  • Ongoing waiting list: PHB is now accepting year-round pre-applications for the N/NE Preference Policy waiting list for rental housing opportunities. This is a new application process with an open waitlist. Prospective applicants can submit a waitlist application at any time. The waiting list will have no closing date.
  • Faster application processing: The application processing period has been reduced from fourteen (14) business days to two (2) business days. It will be even more important that applicants submit their required materials on time to ensure that they are among the first to be prioritized for the housing opportunity.
  • Relaxed document requirements: Applicants will only be asked to submit state-issued photo identification and the self-certification form to verify their preference.

Getting Started

What is the North/Northeast Preference Policy?

The Preference Policy is an effort to address the harmful impacts of urban renewal by giving priority placement to housing applicants who were displaced, are at risk of displacement, or descendants of households that were displaced due to urban renewal in North and Northeast Portland. The policy is a tool used to sort the waiting list for City-sponsored housing opportunities in North and Northeast Portland.

What is priority status?

Priority status is given to applicants who previously owned property that was taken by Portland City government through eminent domain, and/or their descendants. Eminent domain refers to the right of a government agency to take private property for public use and relocate and/or compensate the owner of the property. Examples of eminent domain actions include the construction of Memorial Coliseum and the expansion of Emanuel Hospital.

What are preference points?

Preference points are based on current or historic residency in North/Northeast Portland. Up to three points are possible if your current or former address falls within one of the identified areas within North/Northeast Portland where City plans resulted in gentrification and/or displaced households. Up to three additional points are possible if the current or former address of your ancestor or guardian falls within one of the identified areas, for a maximum total of six points. Applicants are then sorted on the waitlist for housing in order of the preference points they received, from highest to lowest, with priority status applicants placed at the top of the list.

What if I have more than one former address that is eligible for preference points? Or more than one address for my ancestor/guardian?

If you or your ancestor/guardian have had more than one address in North/Northeast Portland, or if you have more than one ancestor with an eligible address, you may test different combinations before submitting the application in order to receive the highest number of points. If you currently live in the same house with an ancestor or guardian, of if you currently occupy a home previously occupied by an ancestor or guardian, you may list the same address twice. You are encouraged to use addresses that yield the highest point value.


Who is eligible?

The application for the waitlist is open to anyone. However, you must still pass the screening criteria and meet the income qualifications to qualify for housing, regardless of your preference points or priority status. You may be eligible for rental housing opportunities if your combined household income is between 30% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Use the AMI calculator or the table below to find out if you are income eligible.

AMI Calculator

Household  Size30% AMI50% AMI60% AMI

*Income and rent limits are published annually.

If I applied before, do I need to apply again?

Yes, if you applied for Preference Policy rental housing opportunities in previous years, you will need to reapply. Applicants will not be considered unless they submit a new pre-application through Preference Policy Application Portalor by mail.

How to Apply

How can I apply for housing opportunities?

Applicants may submit an application in one of two ways:

Apply online:

Preference Policy Application Portal

Or, to request a paper application by mail: 

Send a self-addressed envelope to:

N/NE Preference Policy c/o Portland Housing Bureau
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7007,
Portland, OR 97201

What information do I need to have to complete the application?

  • Your current mailing address – this can be the address where you are currently living or a stable address where you regularly receive mail.
  • A current email address or phone number. Email is preferred.
  • A current or former address for yourself that is eligible for preference points.
  • A current or former address of your ancestor or guardian that is eligible for preference points – you may use the address of a parent/guardian or grandparent who is deceased.
  • A piece of paper and a pen or pencil. You will need these to write down the reference number that you will get at the end of the application process. This reference number will be proof that you have applied. If you provided an email address, a confirmation receipt with the reference number will be emailed to you.

Application Questions

How do I know that you have received my application?

If you apply online, the online application will generate a reference number. After successful submission, you will be redirected to a confirmation page. This confirmation page will include your reference number. It is recommended that you print the page with your confirmation number via the Print Confirmation button or write the number down. If you provided an email address, your confirmation number and reference number will be emailed to the address you provided.

If you mail a paper application, you will be mailed a confirmation receipt with the date, reference number, and the initials of the staff person who received your application.

How are applications processed?

PHB sorts the list of applicants in order of points received from highest to lowest, with priority status households at the top of the list, followed by six-point households, then five-point households, and so on. PHB will notify applicants of their status by mail or email.

If I am selected from the waiting list, am I automatically approved for the housing opportunity?

No. Preference does not guarantee housing. Applicants must still meet the eligibility criteria for the housing opportunity. Factors such as gross household income, credit history, criminal history may be considered when determining whether you qualify for the housing opportunity. The property manager may ask for additional information to determine your eligibility for the housing opportunity. Please note that property managers are not required to contact you until your name reaches the top of the waiting list.

I called the hotline, and no one answered.

If you call the applicant hotline at 503-823-4147, please leave a voicemail. Our staff will call you back as soon as possible. We are temporarily unable to answer calls in real time.

Reasonable Accommodation

I have a disability preventing me from completing the application. What can I do?

Please submit a reasonable accommodation request form.

The form can be submitted though one of the three methods below:

  • By mail: Portland Housing Bureau
    Attn: N/NE Preference Policy Waitlist
    1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7007
    Portland, OR 97201
  • By email:
    Subject line: "Reasonable Accommodation Request" and the date of your request MM‑DD‑YYYY
  • By phone: 503-823-4147 during the hotline office hours
    Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    Closed Tuesday and Thursday


N/NE Preference Policy Waitlist

phone number503-823-4147Email preferred. Hotline hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9-11 am and 1-4 pm. Please leave a voicemail. Staff will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.
fax number503-865-3278