Sheldon Traver, Community Resource Trust
In fall of 2015, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) and the Community Action Partnership of Oregon (CAPO) published a report titled “Moving from Poverty to Prosperity in Oregon: 2015 Report on Poverty.”
Numbers for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (Salem MSA; Marion and Polk counties) show how the region has fared.
The Salem MSA has 10.2 percent of the state’s population and 11.4 percent of the state’s population of people in poverty. The area has a higher level of poverty with respect to the size of the population. The median household income between 2008 and 2012 in Marion County was $46,654 compared to Oregon at $50,036 and Multnomah County at $51,582. The national median household income was $53,046.
Between 2009 and 2013, OHCS reports that it provided an average of $102,095,747 per year for affordable housing throughout the state. The Salem MSA received an average per year of $4,002,757, 3.9 percent, of the funding. In contrast, Multnomah County received an average of $49,972,041, 38.9 percent, per year of the state’s total funding. Multnomah county constitutes 19.3 percent of the state’s population and 21.2 percent of the state’s population in poverty.
The data provided by Oregon Housing and Community Services shows that the Salem MSA did not receive funding commensurate with either its population or its percentage of poverty. The Oregon Secretary of State’s recent audit of OHCS cites that “The agency could do much better at using data to inform decision-making.” As new leadership steps in with the appointment of Director Margaret Salazar, OHCS is reopening the 5-year strategic plan. Many hope that they will utilize their report, do the math, and determine the areas of highest need both by county and statewide as they establish allocation priorities.
“We look forward to working with OHCS and other stakeholders in utilizing the collection of good data to drive decisions that affect those struggling with the burden of housing in an equitable manner across the State of Oregon,” said Beth Hays, COO of Community Resource Trust, a local nonprofit organization addressing affordable housing. “We look forward to working with the new leadership at OHCS in developing a future that makes sense and maximizes the return of our investment in affordable housing.”
As OHCS reopens the 5-year strategic plan for funding in Oregon, members of the community will have the opportunity to participate and provide input. Hays said developers and housing and service providers from the Salem MSA need to be at the table as priorities are laid out. Community Resource Trust will be there, and they invite others to join in the effort.
For more information on how to get involved, go to the www.communityresourcetrust.com contact page.
“Moving from Poverty to Prosperity in Oregon: 2015 Report on Poverty” – http://www.oregon.gov/ohcs/pdfs/2015-report-on-poverty.pdf