Vancouver City Council approves Multifamily Tax Exemption expansion

Program extends to area surrounding new C-Tran Vine bus route

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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The Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the expansion of the Multifamily Tax Exemption program Monday evening.

The expansion follows the new C-Tran Vine bus rapid transit line along Fourth Plain Boulevard just east of Northeast Andresen Road. The extended zone includes properties within a quarter-mile of Vine stops. This zone includes Vancouver Mall and the Royal Oaks area.

That’s good news for developer Michael Troxler, the only resident to give public testimony on the proposal Monday evening.

Troxler has proposed a 12-unit multifamily development at 7919 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Funding for the project, he said, is dependent on obtaining the multifamily tax exemption. Troxler said he intends to apply for an eight-year exemption, which requires 20 percent of the building’s units to serve households earning up to 100 percent of the area median income. The median income is $50,626 for a family of four.

The Multifamily Tax Exemption program also offers a 10-year exemption for projects with 20 percent of units reserved for households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, and a 12-year exemption for units serving families earning up to 60 percent of the median income.

The program’s expansion was recommended by the Affordable Housing Task Force in light of a 3.8 percent vacancy rate with median rents continuing to rise. A May analysis by the Portland State University Center for Real Estate found area median rents — $1,360 for a one-bedroom and $1,600 for a two-bedroom unit — were unattainable for many households.

The expansion along the Vine route also allows the city to encourage transit-oriented development, a concept for which the council advocates.

The council also approved a proposed allocation for the Vancouver Affordable Housing Fund.

The city has $6 million as a result of Proposition 1, a seven-year levy approved in 2016, to spend on affordable housing and homeless services. The city will spend $4 million on seven projects to fund 237 new units, 80 of which are reserved for low-income tenants. Three housing preservation projects will receive a total of $400,000, and $300,000 will be spent on homeless-prevention programming.

The council will discuss exactly how to spend the $300,000 at its Oct. 9 meeting. A new homeless shelter is one possibility, as well as services recommended by local community service providers.