Shelter to Housing Continuum Project (S2HC) - *key* initiative from PDX Planning

Tim McCormick

To: PDX Shelter Forum list
An article just out in Portland Monthly discusses the recently-passed Residential Infill Project begun 5+ years ago, and foregrounds (at end) an important next step, central to addressing lowest-cost and houseless-oriented dwellings: the Shelter to Housing Continuum Project (S2HC):

Well-organized and broad advocacy is needed NOW to maximize the ways S2HC might help us broadly, quickly, and creatively help everyone unsheltered. In particular, by 
  1. Applying it broadly across city, vs only in certain areas with the least political power & amenities; 
  2. Legalizing vehicle dwelling (e.g. RVs, tiny houses on wheels) on private property, which is current decriminalized but not legalized. 
  3. Allowing a full range of dwelling types to be used in alternative shelters/villages, including RVs, THOWs, and dwellings usable as or adaptable into Accessory Dwelling Units. Movable dwellings are now allowed as ADUs in many cities including Los Angeles and San Jose, Portland has fallen behind in enabling this very low-cost, flexible, scalable, and independently-ownable approach. 

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Like RIP, this is led by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability; it is in discussion now and slated for Planning Commission hearing this Fall. We have been tracking this project closely, and it was brought up by PSC Chair Eli Spevak at our Forum on June 25, and discussed by BPS project lead Al Burns also in attendance. (see in the event video starting at 1:03:30).  This was apparently the first public description of S2HC offered by BPS.

While the article doesn't quite connect these dots, the 2014 letter by Eli Spevak, co-signed by other advocates, credited as what 'conceived' RIP, included additional proposals not in RIP as passed. It had in its seven sections one on temporary, interim, and movable dwellings, and one on cottage clusters.

The former is not addressed at all in RIP, but could be by S2HC, to what degree depending on our advocacy efforts.

The second, cottage clusters, is only partly addressed by RIP, because a) RIP does not enable clusters by right (unlike *plexes), and b) allows no more of them on a site than it allows other unit types. This undercuts low-cost possibilities that would be enabled by higher unit count, and it means RIP does not yet bring the city to compliance on this with 2019 state zoning reform HB2001. Cottage clusters, of course, could be a form for permanent, low-cost village housing creation at potentially many sites, with per-unit cost much below that of conventional multi-unit development -- as is being done by SquareOne Villages of Eugene, and other organizations around the country.

An 'RIP 2' initiative is under way to bring Portland code to HB2001 compliance, which will include new rules for clusters, and also extending *plex by-right provisions to single-family zoned areas which RIP excluded (including large parts of the West side).

Anyway, set your sights on SH2C and get ready to think big, write in, and testify, so we can make the most of this rare opportunity, and enable radically low-cost and creative housing in Portland. 

Bcc: Eli Spevak, Al Burns

Tim McCormick
Editor at HousingWiki, Organizer at Village Collaborative
Portland, Oregon