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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the N/NE Preference Policy? Find answers to common questions about the Preference Policy Waitlist.
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Homeownership Waitlist application opens March 19 at 8 a.m. through April 19, 2024. Apply online through the portal.

General Information

What is the North/Northeast Preference Policy? 

The N/NE Preference Policy gives preference to housing applicants impacted by displacement due to urban renewal, eminent domain, and historic inequitable housing practices in North/Northeast Portland. This policy prioritizes housing applicants who reside, have previously lived in, or have generational ties to the region for City-sponsored affordable housing. While preference is intended to provide a pathway for longtime and displaced community members to access affordable housing in their historic neighborhoods, it does not guarantee housing. Applicants must also income-qualify and meet other screening criteria for housing placement. 

Who is eligible for preference? 

The application is open to everyone. To receive preference, applicants must demonstrate current or past residence in North or Northeast Portland that were subject to high levels of urban renewal over time.  

How are preference points granted? 

Preference is determined by where an applicant and their ancestors live(d) in relation to areas of concentrated urban renewal in North and Northeast Portland. Applicants can receive between 0 and 6 points on their application: up to three points based on their current or former address and up to three additional points for the current or former address of a parent/guardian or ancestor. Those without previous ties to North/Northeast Portland are also welcome to apply. Learn more about preference points and how to use the map.

Are there additional preferences? 

No. Applicants can only receive preference in relation to where they and/or their ancestor/guardian lived within North/Northeast Portland.  

Is PHB a public housing authority? 

No, the public housing authority for Portland is Home Forward, not PHB.

Application Process

How do I apply?

Submit an application online through the new portal:

Preference Policy Application Portal

Paper application available upon request. Email or drop by PHB at 1900 SW 4th Ave, 7th floor.

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

  • Your current mailing address. If you do not have an address, contact our helpline at 503-823-4147
  • Email address and phone number. 
  • Current phone number. 
  • Current or former address for yourself that is eligible for preference points.  
  • Current or former address for your ancestor/guardian that is eligible for preference points – you may use the address of a person who is deceased. 
  • A piece of paper and a pen to write down your reference number. If you provide an email address on your application, the reference number will be sent to you. 

Is there an application fee? 

No, there is no fee to apply for the waitlist. You may be charged a non-refundable background check fee by the rental property owner. 

How do I know that you received my application? 

You will receive a reference number to the email address provided in your application. The reference number will also appear on the confirmation screen after you submit your online application.

For paper applications, a confirmation receipt will be mailed to you after the application period closes. 

What should I expect after I apply for the waitlist? 

Each application gets sorted 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. Portland Housing Bureau will notify applicants of their status by postal mail or e-mail. You may be removed from the waitlist if we are unable to reach you.  

What is priority status? 

Priority status is given to applicants who owned a property or are descendants of a property that was taken by the Portland city government through eminent domain. Eminent domain refers to the right of a government or agency to take private property for public use and, in some cases, relocate and compensate the owner of the property. Examples of eminent domain actions include the construction of Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, Albina condemnation action, and the expansion of Emanuel Hospital. 

What happens after I am referred? 

For the Rental Housing Waitlist: 

When a vacancy occurs in the building, you will be referred to the managing agent. They will conduct an interview to confirm if you qualify for the housing opportunity.  

Before or at the interview, you may need to provide documentation. Prepare by gathering copies today.  

You may have to show: 

  • Who will live with you — Examples: birth certificates, picture IDs. 

  • The incomes of everyone who will live with you. Examples: pay stubs, federal or state tax returns; proof of Social Security, veteran, or public assistance benefit income.  

For the Homeownership Waitlist: 

You will be referred to a homebuying specialist at the Portland Housing Center. The homebuying specialist will help you become mortgage ready. You will receive credit counseling, budgeting, and ongoing guidance throughout the homebuying process. You may be considered for new construction homes in N/NE Portland or you may be able use Down Payment Assistance Loan (DPAL) funds toward the purchase of a new home. 

My contact information or household size has changed. What do I do? 

It is very important that you notify us in writing of any changes to your mailing address, phone number, or the size of your household. Email us at

How can I get a paper application?  

The online portal makes it easy to apply online. Paper applications are available upon request. Please submit only one request per household. 

Income and Eligibility

Who is eligible?

Anyone can apply to be on the waitlist. Each of the housing opportunities may have specific income limit requirements. 

Rental housing opportunities: Combined annual household income must be at or below 30% and up to 60% AMI of the Area Median Income. The developer or managing agent will inform you of the income limit for the unit.  

Homeownership opportunities: Combined annual income must be at or below 100% of the Area Median Income. The Homebuying Counselor will confirm the income limit of the award. Applicants may be required to meet additional guidelines set by the developer.

AMI Calculator

What is Area Median Income (AMI)? 

Area Median Income is the median income levels as modified by household size for the Portland metro area as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The AMI is defined annually by HUD.

Who calculates income? 

The developer or managing agent will calculate income using annual gross income. The Portland Housing Bureau does not calculate income. You must provide ALL sources of income for ALL household members who will be living in the unit you are applying. 

Every applicant's income will be considered in evaluating eligibility and used to document a continuing need for housing assistance. All sources of income must be documented and verified. 

Why do I need to give so much information about my finances? 

The housing provider needs to certify that an applicant’s income falls within the income guidelines. Providing required information such as employment information, bank accounts, assets, Social Security Numbers (SSN), Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN) is necessary for the housing provider to fully review and approve you for an affordable rental housing unit.  

What are the criteria for students applying for affordable rental housing? 

For a unit with tax credits, a household cannot made up entirely of full-time students unless the household qualifies for an exception under the Federal law. Additionally, student loans and grants are not considered income.  

Can I apply for affordable housing if I have a voucher or rental subsidy? 

Yes. Vouchers and subsidies, such as the Housing Choice Voucher, Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), are all accepted. Minimum income requirements do not apply if you have a voucher or a rental subsidy.  

I do not live in Portland. Can I still apply? 

Yes, non-Portland residents can still apply, however, preference is given to current and longtime residents of North and Northeast Portland, specifically residents within the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area.

Technical Assistance

How do I contact the helpline?

  • Email We respond to email messages in the order they are received within 1-2 business days. Email is the fastest way to reach us.  

  • Phone at 503-823-4147. Leave a voicemail message. We return calls in the order they are received, within 2-3 business days. 

  • Fax 503-865-3278. We will process faxed documents within 2-3 business days. 

How can I meet with someone in person? 

In-person assistance is available by appointment on Tuesdays. Please note, PHB is a hybrid office. Staff are only in the building on certain days of the week. 

Book now: In-person appointment (Tuesdays only) 

Need to drop off a form in person? No appointment necessary. Visit our office on the 7th floor.

Get Directions
1900 SW 4th Ave, 7th floor

I called the helpline, and no one answered.

Please leave a voicemail. We may be temporarily unable to answers calls in real time due to high call volumes.

Reasonable Accommodation

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, program, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to participate fully in a program.  

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

Requests should be submitted in writing. All reasonable accommodation requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Please complete a reasonable accommodation request form.

If you need assistance completing the form, please contact the Preference Policy Helpline at 503-823-4147.

To submit your reasonable accommodations request:


N/NE Preference Policy Waitlist - Helpline

phone number503-823-4147Call or email the helpline for assistance. Staff are available to support and answer questions.
fax number503-865-3278