On May 14, county commissioners and judges gathered in Salem for AOC Day. Members received an update from Margaret Salazar, the director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. Director Salazar discussed the growing relationships her agency is developing with local governments across the state including a series of housing workshops that will begin soon. She also referenced an update to the statewide housing plan is long overdue, as the old one predates the internet.

Director Salazar is looking forward to a robust outreach effort to engage local governments in the critically important issue of housing. She fielded several questions from county commissioners about the definition of affordable housing, regulations placed on the construction of housing, the costs involved and the dearth of a labor pool to build new housing across the state. Director Salazar said the questions that were asked are the ones that keep her up at night, but she indicated she is ready for the discussion to go to the next level.

She said her agency is looking forward to the 2019 session of the Oregon Legislature where housing will be on several agendas, but she said she is hopeful the series of housing workshops about to begin across the state will provide the input the state needs to craft significant and effective housing legislation.

Regional Solutions Coordinator James LaBar, who is also Governor Brown’s housing advisor, picked up the discussion describing housing pilot projects from different areas around the state. He said the projects were a learning experience and the state was gaining valuable information about different processes. He also addressed the need to engage the private sector – employers – in the housing discussion.

AOC steering committees are in the process of refining legislative priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session. Staff expects steering committees to further refine priorities in June, with final consideration and approval by the AOC Legislative Committee in September.

The next AOC Day is scheduled for June 11th in Salem.

Contributed by: Eric Schmidt | Consultant