In what could be a model for other counties in Oregon and possibly in other states, the Multnomah County, Oregon, Board of Commissioners will vote on a resolution to reduce property taxes for manufactured homes as a way to keep 5,000 residents more stably housed.
The effort to keep manufactured homes affordable for people with low or fixed incomes dates back more than a decade as the County has worked to ease tax burdens for people who own their manufactured homes but not the land underneath. In 2009, then-Commissioner Deborah Kafoury and County staff worked through the Oregon Legislature to lay the foundation for alleviating the tax burdens of some of the most vulnerable manufactured homeowners by establishing a $38,000 property tax cancellation for manufactured homes.
“This resolution represents a sensible and equitable evolution of our past efforts to keep this housing affordable in the face of rising property values and lagging new construction,” said Chair Kafoury. “Ultimately, it will offer more stability and security to owners of manufactured homes.”
In 2019, Commissioner Lori Stegmann worked with the Oregon Legislature to include a property tax exemption for counties with a population of 570,000 or more, allowing them to adopt their own exemption threshold up to $50,000, up from $38,000. Rather than a cancellation for properties valued at $38,000 or below, the bill allows for a property tax exemption, which benefits all homeowners.
“We were concerned that mobile home values were increasing rapidly and that it would result in an inequitable burden on many fixed and low-income communities,’’ said Commissioner Stegmann.
But as property values rose in the County, the number of households who qualified for the cancellation has shrunk. There are currently 4,917 mobile homes in Multnomah County. Of those units, 3,016 received a property tax cancellation for the 2021-2022 tax year. But since 2020, 72 manufactured home households have moved over the $38,000 threshold, losing the property tax cancellation.
Creating a property tax exemption of $50,000 would exempt another 726 homes from receiving a property tax bill, and all 4,917 mobile homes would benefit from a reduced property tax burden.