PETER WONG Oregon Bureau of Capital
The conversion of hotels and motels to emergency shelters and low-cost housing would be eased under a bill midway through the Oregon legislature.
The House voted 41-12 Wednesday to send the bill to the Senate.
House Bill 3261 would exclude converting hotels and motels purchased for emergency shelter or low cost housing from land use issues in cities and counties. Lawmakers made federal money available for such purchases last year as part of the Turnkey Project, overseen by the Oregon Community Foundation.
Representative Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, said some projects have continued but others have stalled despite community support.
“The need to continue zoning changes often gets in the way of large projects,” said Marsh, the bill’s sponsor. “It’s a problem when we have a homelessness and social housing crisis.
“This will allow us to convert hotels and motels that have served tourists and become facilities that will house the most vulnerable among us. As a building meant to take care of people, it doesn’t matter who rests their head on that pillow. “
Marsh represents a neighborhood that lost 2,500 homes to the Almeda fire, which swept through northern Ashland through Talent and Phoenix. It was one of the Labor Day wildfires that swept through Oregon. Many of the displaced residents were low-income families who found themselves with few affordable alternatives for housing.