The Metro Council is poised to ask voters to approve the greatest increase in the regional government’s authority in decades.Six of the seven elected council members have signaled support for referring a $652.8 million affordable housing bond to the November 2108 ballot this Thursday, June 7. The proposed measure says passage will create a new affordable housing function for Metro. The funds would be distributed to cities and county housing authorities.
The amount is significantly more than all Metro ballot measures approved since 1995 combined — including the 2008 Oregon Zoo renovation bond, three natural area acquisition bonds and two natural area maintenance levies. It also is more than twice as much as the $258 million affordable housing bond approved by Portland voters in November 2016, the only other such measure ever referred to voters in the region.
During a May 29 council work session on the measure, Metro Chief Operating Officer Martha Bennett said she wasn’t even convinced affordable housing was in the government’s “wheelhouse” a year ago. But, Bennett said, Metro-commissioned polls and conversations with others in the Portland area convinced her that the affordable housing crisis is a regional issue demanding Metro’s leadership.