St. Helens is participating in a recently-launched statewide initiative to address the major housing availability and affordability problems being experienced in Oregon.
The St. Helens community is invited to attend a final Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) public meeting on Wednesday, May 1 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the St. Helens Council Chambers, 265 Strand Street. This meeting will be held before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
This is the final meeting to gather community input before the HNA adoption process. The adoption process will include public hearings. Since December 2018, the City of St. Helens has held three HNA community meetings.
At the May 1 meeting, the City’s consultant will present a summary of the work already completed in the HNA process. Documents that have been discussed at previous meetings include:
1. Housing Needs Forecast - Established a baseline for the forecasted number of housing units needed for the next 20 years.
2. Buildable Land Inventory - Calculated the land acreage that is suitable for residential uses, excluding land constrained by natural hazards, land protected due to natural resources, land with slopes greater than 25 percent, land within the 100-year floodplain, or land where public facilities cannot be provided.
3. Housing Land Needs - Reconciled demand for different types of housing based on population growth estimates and available land supply. The public is invited to learn about the HNA process and provide input regarding housing type, demand, availability, affordability, and policy. These documents and other HNA resources have been uploaded to the project website at https://www.ci.st-helens.or.us/planning/page/housing-needsanalysis.
The consultants will formulate draft housing strategies based on HNA findings and input from the public, members of the HNA Advisory Committee, City Council, and city staff. These strategies will help address any specific housing types that will not be met with existing available residential lands.
The final HNA document is planned for adoption into the Comprehensive Plan by the end of 2019. Any recommended changes to the city’s housing policies from the HNA efforts will be discussed and deliberated at future Planning Commission and City Council meetings after adoption has been completed.
The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) received a special appropriation of funds for 2018-2019 to assist cities in updating their comprehensive plans and land use regulations to promote housing availability and affordability across the state.
The City of St. Helens was selected for this first round of funding from DLCD to complete a Housing Needs Analysis. DLCD prioritized St. Helens for funding because the City has over 10,000 residents, has never completed a Housing Needs Analysis, and is classified as severely rent-burdened. Severely rent burdened means that over 25 percent of renter households in St. Helens spend more than 50 percent of their household income on gross rent for housing.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2016, 27 percent of the renting population in St. Helens is considered severely rent-burdened. The overall purpose of the HNA is to increase the supply and affordability of housing within the boundaries of the city. The consultant will complete products needed to update comprehensive plans and zoning codes, or adopt other housing strategies, to help ensure that the city has an available land supply to accommodate housing needs over the next 20 years. The consultants will also provide a code audit and a code update to help ensure the zoning code allows, and does not include barriers to, development of needed housing.