Single Family Zoning Banned By Oregon State Legislature

This July, Oregon’s state legislature passed House Bill 2001, requiring cities with a population greater than 10,000 to allow duplexes in areas zoned for single-family homes. This legislation goes a step further in Portland, requiring cities in counties in the metro area to allow the building of housing including duplexes, quad-plexes and “cottage clusters” of homes around a common area. This bill has bipartisan support and Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill into law. 

This legislation is actually the first-ever state-level legalization of particular housing types that have become difficult to build in the United States. Often referred to as “missing middle” housing, buildings like three-flats or courtyard apartments were previously very common in the US, but have since become scarce or even illegal because of efforts in the mid-1900s promoting racial and class segregation. 

These unfortunate efforts have worsened Oregon’s shortage of workforce housing and have caused housing prices to increase. This means that individuals and families are forced to choose between two extreme housing options: either a detached home with a lawn (which typically has to be located far from work and other amenities in order to find affordable land), or a small apartment in a commercial area. But there is some good news. Although Oregon is pioneering this housing effort, it is by no means the only state considering such a measure. The Minneapolis City Council and the state of California, for example, are also considering similar measures that would eliminate single-family zoning. 

Oregon Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek notes that “Our crisis is statewide…We don’t have enough housing for our communities…It really is about a lack of housing supply.” Proponents of this measure believe that it will decrease the cost of housing over time and will provide more affordable housing options in typically exclusive neighborhoods, which would diversify neighborhoods from both an economic and racial standpoint. Kotek continues to describe how there are many ways to address these issues, however, “[o]ne of them is to smooth and encourage additional [housing] construction.” 

In addition to helping individuals experiencing homeless transition into permanent housing, JOIN advocates for local and national for policies that we believe will aid in these efforts. Here at JOIN, we support the passage of House Bill 2001. We believe that this measure will effectively increase the amount of affordable housing throughout the state, and will encourage diversity in our communities. 

If you would like to help JOIN transition individuals and families out of homlessness and into permanent housing, consider donating today