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RAMP: Regulated Affordable Multifamily Assistance Program

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Program Summary

The Regulated Affordable Multifamily Assistance Program (RAMP) provides a sewer, stormwater, water bill discount to multifamily properties that are approved for the City’s Nonprofit Low-Income Housing Limited Tax Exemption (NPLTE) program. RAMP was approved by Portland City Council in spring of 2023, with the discount starting in July 2023. 

Some benefits of RAMP include:

  • RAMP will reach over 12% of multifamily housing units in the City of Portland. That’s 15,000 households each year. 
  • RAMP will be a three-year pilot starting in FY 2023–24. The bureaus will track performance measures and assess efficacy throughout the pilot.
  • RAMP will provide an estimated average benefit of $325 per unit annually. The RAMP benefit equates to a 4% reduction in rent for a family of three at 30% Median Family Income (MFI).
  • The RAMP discount goes on the bill paid by the nonprofit, which will be required to reduce rents or enable greater services to tenants.
  • RAMP enrollment would last one fiscal year, renewed annually in alignment with the NPLTE. 
  • RAMP is a partnership between the Portland city bureaus of Water, Environmental Services, and Housing.

Background

Over the past few decades, Portland has experienced rising costs in housing and other essential services, resulting in an affordability crisis. Over the same time period, the utility bureaus have increased rates for water, sewer, and stormwater services due to aging infrastructure, climate change, increasing regulatory mandates, and declining demand.

Image of Bronaugh Apartments building

We want community members to be able to pay their bills without sacrificing other essentials such as food, housing, heat, medical services, childcare, and transportation. At the same time, we must maintain levels of service that comply with federal, state, and local regulations. Our goal in navigating these two commitments is to provide safe and reliable drinking water to all Portlanders without creating an unsustainable economic burden for the communities, households, and businesses we serve.

RAMP is one component of our ongoing work to address affordability issues by providing financial assistance to community members living with low incomes. 

RAMP Open House

RAMP staff hosted a virtual open house on February 15, 2023. Below is a link to the Zoom meeting recording.

RAMP open house Zoom recording

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply?

To be eligible for this program, you must be approved for the City of Portland’s Nonprofit Low-Income Housing Limited Tax Exemption (NPLTE), which is administered by the Portland Housing Bureau. Complete requirements for that program can be viewed on the NPLTE website. Below are key requirements: 

  • Your nonprofit organization must own or lease the multifamily property. 
  • The property must be occupied by households making less than 80% of the median family income, or MFI (60% in the first year). 
  • You must reduce the property’s rents to reflect savings from the property tax exemption.

How and when do I apply?

The Portland Housing Bureau administers the Nonprofit Low-Income Housing Limited Tax Exemption (NPLTE) to provide a property tax exemption for affordable housing held by nonprofit organizations. The RAMP application is integrated into the (NPLTE) program application. The application is typically open from January to March. Please visit the Portland Housing Bureau website to apply and for specific dates.

How much is the discount?

The discount will be based on the square footage percentage of the property serving low-income tenants. RAMP will provide an estimated $325 per year discount per unit for tier A and a $227 per year discount per unit for tier B.

For properties with 70%-100% of their square footage serving low-income tenants, tier A, the discount for sewer, stormwater service will be 50% and the water service discount will be 20%.

For all other properties, tier B, the discount for sewer, stormwater service will be 35% and the water service discount will be 14%.

Why are we focusing on regulated affordable housing?

Providing benefits to regulated affordable housing has multiple community and administrative benefits. By partnering with the NPLTE program, we know that these residents are some of the members of our community living with low incomes. Each year, the nonprofit applicants must certify the ways they will use the benefits to support their tenants and the community. Additionally, this program allows the three city bureaus to work together and leverage resources. 

How will we ensure that the benefit goes to the tenant?

The NPLTE program requires that landlords reduce rents and describe how they will pass on the benefit of that program to their tenants. Because RAMP is administered through the NPLTE program, RAMP also requires landlords to reduce rents or enable greater services to tenants in order to participate. 

What about single-dwelling units in the NPLTE?

Single-family units enrolled in the NPLTE are not currently eligible for the RAMP discount, but they may be eligible for financial assistance under the single-family bill discount program. 

How will RAMP impact sewer/stormwater/water rates?

The financial impact of RAMP translates to a 0.92% increase for Environmental Services rates and a 0.2% increase for Water rates. Similar to other financial assistance programs, the program will be funded by all customers. This equates to an approximate 0.63% overall increase of the utility bill and an increase in $0.85 per month for the typical single-family bill.