An audit released Tuesday finds communication problems and a lack of data at the Oregon Housing and Community Services agency are putting affordable rentals at risk.
The state’s housing agency is charged with maintaining and increasing affordable housing in Oregon. It’s also responsible for developing the state’s strategic housing plan.
But a new audit, conducted by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, finds that plan has consistently fallen short, in part because the agency doesn’t have a reliable inventory of Oregon’s affordable housing.
The audit found poor communication within the agency and with partners around the state is putting federal rent subsidies at risk. Those rent subsidies help maintain affordable housing.
“The loss of even a single rental unit could mean one or more Oregon families may not be able to find a home,” Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said in a statement. “This agency (OHCS) has been through a lot of change and uncertainty in recent years, but now they need to address the issues we’ve identified so they can help ensure Oregonians have stable and affordable housing.”
The audit comes as the state’s housing supply is strained. Low vacancy rates, dramatically increasing housing costs and stagnant wages have made it extremely difficult for low-income families to find places to live.
OPB All Things Considered host Kate Davidson spoke with Atkins about the audit. Listen to their conversation by clicking play in the audio player at the top of this article.