Wait Time for City of Portland’s Affordable Apartments Is Five Years

The new report offers a glimpse into the depths of the city’s affordable housing crisis.

Peaceful Villa, a Home Forward apartment complex in Southeast Portland. (Chris Nesseth)

According to data generated by the city of Portland, the average wait time for one of the city’s subsidized, affordable housing units is five years.

The data, commissioned by Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office and produced by Home Forward, offers a glimpse into the depths of the city’s housing crisis. Affordable housing is in high demand but in short supply, and rising rents mean more Portlanders are getting priced out of their homes.

According to Skyler Brocker-Knapp, senior policy adviser to Wheeler, the five-year average was calculated from 35,758 households currently on waitlists for 5,373 units that are owned, managed or subsidized by Home Forward.

To be sure, the report only captures a portion of the subsidized and affordable units across the city. (The mayor’s office says it likely captures anywhere from a quarter to a third of the city’s total deeply affordable units). However, the mayor’s office tells WW similar data not yet compiled shows a similar wait time for other affordable units across the city.

Monica Foucher, spokeswoman for Home Forward, tells WW that waitlist times are an estimate because Home Forward has no time limit on stays and households are placed only as vacancies occur.

According to the report, one-third of the applicants currently on the Home Forward building waitlists are Black. Another third are white. And of the 1,621 current applicants on the waitlist, 1,400 are categorized as “extremely low income.”

About a third of Home Forward tenants offered a unit in 2021 were homeless, according to the mayor’s office. That means that the waitlist at the city’s public housing buildings affects many of the Portlanders living on the streets today.

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