Mayor Ted Wheeler is banking that the proposed amendment to the Oregon Constitution to enhance bond-funded affordable housing spending will pass at the November general election. Under his administration, the Portland Housing Bureau has postponed issuing any new city affordable housing bonds until voters decide whether to approve Measure 102.
The Oregon Constitution currently prevents governments from partnering with private businesses on bond-funded affordable housing projects. That is why the City Council only promised to create or preserve 1,300 unit if voters approved the $258 million Portland affordable housing bond at the November 2016 general election. The bureau would have had much more flexible under traditional financing methods, which include partnering with private businesses and nonprofits on projects funded by urban renewal supported-revenue bonds.
The bureau issued $37 million in affordable housing bonds to help buy the existing Ellington Apartments in Northeast Portland before the 2018 Oregon Legislature referred the proposed amendment to the ballot. Although the council subsequently purchased one recently completed apartment building and two properties for future affordable housing projects, it used interim financing, not affordable housing bond funds, for the acquisitions. Expect Wheeler to announce a much higher number of future bond-funded units should Measure 102 pass.
No more politics as usual
By now Oregon voters have realized how much political campaigns have changed in the state.
Traditionally, Labor Day was considered the unofficial public start of the campaign season. But TV ads in the Oregon governor's race have been running for months, including attack ads funded by political action committees that are supposed to operate independently of the candidates.
It is impossible to know how much money has been spent for and against Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Republican state Rep. Knute Buehler since they were nominated in the May primary election. All of the independent committees route their funds through consulting and advertising firms, which are not required to identify where it goes. But anyone who watches TV knows a lot
of money on both sides
was spent before Monday, Sept. 3.
Unexpected campaign financing
As the 2018 elections enter their final stages, some officeholders who are not running for reelection are also receiving contributions — and making some of their own.
Although Mayor Ted Wheeler is not up for reelection until 2020, his political action committee received $10,000 from the Local 48 Electricians PAC on Aug. 8 and $2,500 from Stevens Water Monitoring Systems President Scott South on Aug. 31. Commissioner Nick Fish, who was reelected in the May primary election, received $500 from Beam Development on Aug. 2.
Some of the contributions helped fund subsequent donations by the officials' PACs. Wheeler gave $500 each to the PACs supporting Democrats in the Oregon House and Senate on Sept. 4. Fish gave $1,000 to the Oregon House Democrats on Aug. 14.
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