The Department of Housing Services (DHS) was formed in 1992 to administer housing activities and programs of the County and the Housing Authority. The mission of the Department of Housing Services is to provide a continuum of affordable housing options that promote community strength. Working in partnership with both the non-profit and the private sector, DHS combines traditional housing programs with economic opportunity to encourage self-sufficiency, skill enhancement and independence for program participants.
DHS consists of a Homeless Services Division that runs several programs to support the County's residents:
Supportive Housing Services
Washington County is committed to preventing and ending homelessness. The Homeless Services Division partners with community-based organizations, affordable housing owners and independent landlords to provide housing assistance and supportive service programs such as shelters that help families and individuals achieve housing stability. The division provides evidence based, trauma informed, and culturally responsive programs designed to advance equity while ending homelessness. For more information click here.
Continuum of Care
This program, originated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides funding to localities such as Washington County to provide permanent housing, transitional housing, supportive services, and homelessness prevention. It promotes a community-wide commitment to end homelessness. More on the County's continuum and homelessness programs can be found here.
Regional Affordable Housing Bond
Since 2018 when voters approved the Regional Affordable Housing Bond measure, providing $192.2 million to Washington County for affordable housing development, DHS has been hard at work implementing various projects throughout the County for it's community members. More on the measure and the County's projects can be found here.
Housing Authority of Washington County
The Department of Housing Services of Washington County also includes the Housing Authority of Washington County (HAWC) one of the 3,300 HUD Public Housing Authorities in the country and 22 in the state of Oregon and the Department of Housing Services. HAWC was created on August 4, 1970, by the Washington Board of Commissioners. In 2021, HAWC became one of the 87 agencies selected through the Moving to Work Expansion. Moving to Work allows HAWC to operate with flexibility and create programs that are tailored to our local community.
HAWC runs several programs and divisions to support the County's residents:
Our Rental Assistance programs serve the largest number of Washington County households with rental subsidies that typically allow them to rent from any private landlord in the community. The Rental Assistance Division administers more than 3,280 units of federal rental subsidy and support programs. The Housing Choice Voucher (formally Section 8) program is the primary form of rental assistance, currently providing more than 2,732 rental assistance vouchers to households in our community including Project-Based Vouchers. The program serves very low-income households in our community, making 50% or less of Area Median Income. Tenants pay a portion of their rent (about 30% of household adjusted income) and the remaining rent is paid by the housing authority to help households remain stably housed.
There are several specialized rental assistance programs. For example, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, with 247 vouchers serves homeless veteran households with rental assistance vouchers, coupled with case management and supportive services provided through the Veterans Administration. The Mainstream Vouchers, program assists non-elderly persons with disabilities, HAWC administers 208 vouchers. Our Shelter Plus Care program provides rental assistance to hard to serve homeless individuals with disabilities, also matching them with care providers to assist in recovery and stabilization. Through the CARES Act, HAWC administers 89 Emergency Housing Vouchers. We also administer Project-Based Rental Assistance and the Project-Based Voucher program where the Housing Choice Voucher is connected to the unit, instead of the household.
Low-Income Public Housing
The Housing Authority of Washington County owns and operates 244 units of Public Housing, located throughout the County. There are 112 single family units and 132 multi-family units. The amount of rent the tenants pay is calculated based on income, usually about 30% of household adjusted income.
Affordable Housing (Asset Management)
The Housing Authority of Washington County owns more than 600 units of affordable rental housing, located throughout Washington County. These units offer below-market rents to qualifying low-income households, typically those earning up to 50-80% of the Area Median Income. These properties also accept Section 8 rental assistance vouchers. There are approximately 1,300 people living in our affordable housing portfolio.
Additionally, the Housing Authority develops units of affordable rental housing through partnerships with the public and private sector. Thus far, we have facilitated development of thousands of additional units of affordable housing in the community. Some of these are owned through a partnership between the Housing Authority and private entities, and some are owned entirely by the partners (“privately owned”). All provide below-market rents to qualifying low-income households.
The Housing Authority also provides 12 units of affordable housing for elderly or disabled households through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. These units are part of the affordable housing portfolio and six of the units are subsidized with Rural Development rental assistance for incomes at 30% of Area Median Income or below.