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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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General Information

Application is currently closed.

Preference Policy Homepage

When application is open, apply for preference online, get in-person assistance at a designated application site, or contact us for a paper application. Please note that the date and time an application is received during the application period will not affect an applicant’s position on the waitlist.

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 applicants who were displaced, are at risk of displacement, or who are descendants of households that were displaced due to urban renewal in North and Northeast Portland.

How does it work?

PHB funds the development of affordable rental housing, homeownership opportunities, and down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers. When any of these opportunities become available in North and Northeast Portland, PHB will open the waitlist for those interested in the housing opportunity.

What is priority status?

Priority status is given to households who owned property that was taken by Portland City government through eminent domain. Eminent domain is the right of a government agency to take private property for public use and relocates and/or compensates the owner of the property. Examples of eminent domain action 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 where City plans displaced and/or gentrified households in North/Northeast Portland. 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 possible of six points.

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 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. 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 Please note that you will be required to provide documentation.

How do I apply?

Apply through the online portal, www.portlandmaps.com/bps/phb/preference, or get in-person assistance at a designated application site.

What information will I need to have to complete the waitlist application?

  1. Your current mailing address – this can be the address where you are currently living or a stable address where you regularly receive mail;
  2. A current email address and/or phone number;
  3. A current or former address for yourself that is eligible for preference points;
  4. A current or former address of your ancestor or grandparent that is eligible for preference points – you may use the address of a parent/guardian or grandparent who is deceased;
  5. 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.

Who is eligible?

The application for the waitlist is open to anyone. Some PHB housing programs serve low and moderate-income households. Households must have an annual income between 30% - 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) to be eligible for the rental housing opportunity. Click here for the AMI calculator to find out if you are income eligible. 

Do I need to be a U.S. Citizen to apply?

Both U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens can apply. Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are one of the following:

  • U.S. permanent resident, with a Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card or “Green Card”)
  • Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Indefinite Parole,” “Humanitarian Parole,” or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”
  • A citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM).

How do I know that you have received my application?

If you submit an application at an application site, you will be given a confirmation receipt with the date, reference number, and the initials of the staff person who received your application. If you are mailing in your application, PHB will mail you a confirmation letter with your reference number.

If you apply online, the online application will generate a reference number for you when you submit it. 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 that you write the number down. If you provided an email address, your confirmation number and reference number will be emailed to the address you provided. 

What happens after applying?

Step 1: Wait for the Portland Housing Bureau to process application.

Once the application round has closed, 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, five-point households, and so on. It generally takes up to four (4) weeks to process applications. PHB will notify applicants of their waitlist status by mailing letters to the applicants.

Step 2: Verify your information

Once you reach the top of the waiting list, PHB will give you a predetermined amount of time to submit documents verifying the information you provided on the waitlist. Documents like utility bills, pay stubs, vehicle registrations, mortgage documents, or lease agreements can be submitted as verification. Click here to see a complete list of valid documents.

Step 3: Screening for tenancy

When your name gets closer to the top of the waiting list, the housing provider will contact you to check your landlord references, credit report, conduct a criminal background check, and verify your income for all household members 18+. Property managers are not required to contact you until your name reaches the top of the waiting list.

Step 4: Staying on the list

During the time you are on the waiting list, PHB will regularly send notices to all persons on the waiting list, asking if they would like to remain on the waiting list. You will be given a short time to respond to this notice. If you do not respond by the deadline, you may be removed from the waiting list.

For this reason, you are encouraged to check your mail regularly and respond quickly to any request. If your information changes (such as address, contact information, etc.), contact PHB immediately. If PHB sends a notice and the notice is returned, you may be removed from the waiting list. 

If I am selected to move forward from the waiting list, am I now eligible 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 have a disability preventing me from completing the application. What can I do?

Reasonable accommodation request forms are available here and at application sites for individuals experiencing a disability.
Submit your reasonable accommodation request:

  1. By mail: Portland Housing Bureau
    Attn: Preference Policy Waitlist
    421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 500
    Portland, OR 97204
  2. By emailPHBWaitlist@portlandoregon.gov with subject line: Reasonable Accommodation Request MM-DD-YYYY
  3. By phone503-823-4147 during the hotline office hours (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM)


N/NE Preference Policy Waitlist


phone number503-823-4147

Email or call us. Hotline hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9 - 11 a.m. and 1 - 4 p.m.

fax number503-865-3278