The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on Thursday passed a resolution intended to make manufactured homes more affordable.
The resolution reduces property taxes for people who own their manufactured homes but lease the land they reside on, like at mobile home parks. It exempts $50,000 of the home’s value from owners’ property tax bills.
Oregon lawmakers first passed a law in 2009 allowing counties to exempt property taxes for manufactured homes that were assessed at or below $38,000. But as property values skyrocketed over the years, many homeowners found themselves pushed beyond that threshold. Even $1 past that threshold meant they’d be taxed for the entire assessed value of the home.
At Thursday’s meeting, Multnomah County Assessor Michael Vaughn told the board that a home assessed at $38,001 would result in a $750 bill for the year.
“Receiving a $750 bill for one year when you didn’t receive it the last can be quite a shock, a shock that I could attest to because my office receives the phone calls when that tax bill is sent,” Vaughn said.
In 2019, Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann worked with state lawmakers to amend the law to increase the exemption threshold from $38,000 to $50,000, and allow counties to exempt that value from all manufactured homes. So, if a home is valued at $50,001, the owner would only get taxed for $1, not the full value of the home.
There are 4,917 mobile homes in Multnomah County, of which 3,016 received a property tax cancellation for the 2021-2022 tax year, according to a press release. Since 2020, 72 manufactured home households have moved over the $38,000 threshold, losing the property tax cancellation.
Manufactured homes have long had a reputation that they lose value instead of gaining value like traditional site-built homes. But new data suggests their values do increase over time due to various factors, like the local housing market and improved building materials.
Commissioner Susheela Jayapal said manufactured homes are often the most affordable option for low-income families to become homeowners. At the meeting, she said the median income for Portlanders who own manufactured homes is about $38,000, compared to $73,000 for the overall median family income.
“Owners of manufactured homes are more likely to be people of color, to speak Spanish at home, to work in low-wage jobs, and to be single parents,” Jayapal said. “These are among the groups that were hardest hit by the pandemic and also are most vulnerable to losing their homes.”
The average value of a mobile home in Multnomah County is $40,740 and the median value is $29,280, according to Vaughn.
All county commissioners took a moment to praise the resolution before passing it unanimously.