Eugene is facing a critical housing shortage, particularly of housing that is affordable and meets the needs of our changing demographics. This shortage has its roots in decades of decision making around land use and zoning that prioritizes and protects housing for the most fortunate. Our housing system is explicitly based on exclusion—our system of zoning was designed to keep particular types of housing out of some neighborhoods, and in doing so, to keep the type of people who would be likely to live in those homes out of some neighborhoods. In Eugene, as in much of the country, it is easier to create a 3,000 square foot McMansion than a 600 square foot backyard cottage. This means that our housing system serves those who can afford and want to live in a 3,000 square foot McMansion, and leaves the rest of us behind.
In order to create a housing system that allows all our residents to find a home that meets their lifestyle and budget, we need to make systematic changes to improve the affordability, availability and diversity of all types of housing. To do this, we must:
- Make sure that Eugene’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund is fully funded, and targeted to increase the supply of housing in Eugene that is affordable to lower-income residents. In 2019, Eugene committed to contributing $500,000 per year to help create new affordable housing in Eugene, but it is unclear if Eugene will continue to prioritize housing in future budgets. I will strongly advocate for City funding for Affordable Housing, and will help ensure that funding is used as intended—to create long-term, stable, affordable housing.
- Update our zoning code to allow for more diverse, compact homes. Our zoning code is the basic blueprint for how and where we build housing in our city—and it is deeply broken. Our current crisis is a direct outcome of decades of prioritizing housing that only meets the needs of a small slice of our population, and is based on principles of exclusion. Eugene has historically dragged its feet when it comes to zoning reform, even when mandated by state law. We can’t afford to do so anymore. We need a blueprint that helps us create the types of diverse, walkable neighborhoods we want to see in Eugene in the future, not the homogenous, car-dependent neighborhoods our code is designed to create. I will push to ensure that Eugene fully implements HB 2001 in a timely fashion, which requires zoning reform to allow more homes and types of homes in all our neighborhoods.