PCRI Praises Approval of Bill Easing "Benefits Cliff"

May 12, 2015 · by pcriadmin · Featured, PCRI

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is set to sign a bill recently passed by the state legislature that will provide an important tool for low-income families to maintain housing stability as they increase their incomes and move toward self-sufficiency.

Photo via Denis Theriault/The Oregonian

House Bill 3082, sponsored by Representative Lew Frederick, was overwhelmingly approved by the Oregon State House of Representatives on April 2, 2015. Senator Chip Shields sponsored the bill in the Oregon State Senate, where it passed easily on May 12. The bill, which will now go to Governor Kate Brown to sign into law, eases the “benefits cliff” faced by families as their incomes grow beyond 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), the maximum threshold to qualify for affordable housing property tax exemptions (approximately $44,000 for a family of four).

Under Oregon’s existing laws, when a family earns even one dollar over the 60% AMI limit, they are at risk of losing their affordable rental housing. While PCRI works with residents to allow them to maintain their affordable housing as their income grows, HB 3082 would allow government to extend the threshold for exemptions to 80% AMI (about $58,000 for a family of four) for existing residents. New renters would still need to earn less than 60% AMI at move-in, but would also be able to benefit form the flexible threshold which allows for increases in income over time.

The bill was supported by Oregon Opportunity Network and local leaders, including Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

“Families who are working to improve their lives shouldn’t be penalized just as they begin to achieve better futures for their children,” Deborah Kafoury stated in recent letter as the bill was presented to the House of Representatives’ Human Services and Housing Committee. “I believe that HB 3082 balances our efforts to provide affordable housing to those most in need with our investments in families who are working to attain self-sufficiency.”

The so-called “benefits cliff” refers to the sharp drop-off in benefits low-income families face as their income reaches a pre-determined threshold, such as the 60% AMI limit. Easing the “cliff” provides organizations like PCRI additional tools to help residents achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty.

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