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More Fourplexes Could Mean More Wheelchair Accessible Housing in Portland

Beyond adding more housing to the market, fourplexes could bring a lot more federally mandated wheelchair accessibility to Portland.
May 23, 2019, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Phillip Merritt

Shifting demographics in the United States are going to create new needs in the housing market, and the greater Portland area is likely to be particularly hard hit. "Over the next 10 years, hundreds of thousands of Cascadian seniors are going to lose the ability to walk easily—and they don’t know it yet," Michael Andersen writes for Sightline. The area does not have the housing stock to accommodate an aging population. Andersen argues that an important zoning change may alleviate some of the pressure.

"It’s the movement to re-legalize 'middle housing' options like duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and accessory dwellings," Andresen writes. These more dense housing styles are generally argued for in terms of providing more dense housing where people want to live, adding more variety to housing market or bringing down the cost of homes, but Andersen points out they would have another side benefit.

"Under the Fair Housing Act, the fourth home within any structure triggers a requirement that every new ground-floor home, and every home in buildings with elevators, be wheelchair-accessible," Andresen writes. In most of Portland it would be illegal to build a fourplex at all, but if they were allowed to come onto the market they could mean a lot more housing options for those whose choices are currently badly limited.

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Published on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 in Sightline
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