Portland City Council today unanimously passed a resolution co-introduced by Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Mayor Ted Wheeler that will kick off the process to explore Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts as a tool to address community priorities in East Portland and the Central City.
Historically, TIF districts in Portland have been a vehicle to serve ambitious land use and redevelopment plans and create resources for investment into regional assets like light rail, the Oregon Convention Center, and the Eastbank Esplanade. In recent years, Prosper Portland has used TIF in innovative ways to support neighborhood Action Plans that focus on people and implement smaller TIF districts through the creation of the Neighborhood Prosperity Network (NPN) and the Cully TIF district, which have been informed by significant community engagement and outreach. To date, TIF resources have funded half of the affordable housing units in Portland.
“As the Commissioner responsible for community and economic development, I am committed to advancing equitable growth outcomes for our neighbors who are most vulnerable to displacement and our businesses,” Commissioner Rubio said. “This TIF exploration process will include broad community engagement among leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to identify common interests.”
As private market pressures intensify, East Portland has an urgent need for community-centered investments to help stabilize residents and small businesses and to support inclusive growth. In 2020, every census tract east of 82nd Avenue — home to a growing portion of Black, Indigenous, and all persons of color in Portland — was considered at risk of displacement. According to the City’s 2022 State of Housing Report, between 2016 and 2021, four neighborhoods in East Portland showed the most significant increases in median home sales price (close to 30 percent or more), which disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.
The Central City is experiencing longer-term and more permanent changes as a result of the pandemic and increased remote work, which has reduced the presence of employees and visitors, particularly in those areas with a high concentration of office space and travel and tourism activity. While office buildings sit empty, rising construction costs and a weaker market have impacted production of housing within the Central City. The Central City also continues to provide a regional hub of critical social and mental health services as additional Portlanders were displaced because of the pandemic. The Central City has an opportunity for reimagined growth through infill and larger-scale projects that unlock affordable, mixed-income, and high-density housing together with opportunities for anchor employers, small businesses, and retailers.
Over the coming year, the exploration process will include public engagement conducted by community-based organizations and City staff, as well as focused conversations in District Working Groups to recommend district boundaries and to co-create plans for new districts, if there is sufficient interest and support.
Commissioner Rubio has directed the agencies to advance the work as far as possible before the change in City government occurs at the end of 2024.