About the Cully TIF Exploration

Seven community-based organizations* in the Cully neighborhood are working directly with residents to plan and create a “Cully TIF District,” which could invest tens of millions of dollars over the next 20+ years specifically to benefit people who are at risk of being displaced. Instead of leading to gentrification and displacement, we believe that the changes and investments coming to Cully must create more stability and opportunity for people of color and low-income people — including current residents and future generations.

Black people, indigenous and tribal people, people of color, renters, mobile home residents, and low-income people have made the Cully neighborhood their home for generations. They have built a strong, caring, diverse community, but are now increasingly at risk of being pushed out and excluded as rents and property values increase. If we do not act urgently and decisively, Cully will soon become unaffordable and inaccessible for current residents and their families.

But we are fighting for a different future, in which residents who are vulnerable to displacement lead and make decisions about the changes that come to Cully. The solutions are within our grasp; together, we have already built hundreds of affordable homes, prevented the closure of mobile home parks, and provided affordable spaces for small businesses to operate. With a new Cully TIF District, we can scale up these efforts, with community members in the lead, in order to provide stability for current residents and secure an equitable future for our neighborhood.

*Cully Association of Neighbors, Cully Boulevard Alliance, Habitat for Humanity Portland Region, Hacienda CDC, NAYA Family Center, Our 42nd Avenue, Verde

How it will work:
We will create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in the Cully neighborhood that uses future increases in property tax to fund projects now. And make sure the community decides how that money is used and who gets to use it. Under state law, TIF funds can only be used for land acquisition and buildings, rather than services or programs. Things that our community might choose to pay for could be: maintaining current affordable housing and creating new permanently affordable housing, land banking for future community-driven development, creating community-held affordable commercial space for small businesses, creating venues and programming for arts and culture, and anything else that prevents displacement and creates stability for community members who are harmed by the status quo of gentrification.

Market-driven change is already happening. Rents and property values are going up, which means that more people are being displaced or excluded from Cully. Now is the time to slow or halt that process and make sure change is instead community-driven, before it’s too late. Through extensive community engagement, research, and collaboration with the City of Portland, we are drafting an official TIF District Plan, along with a new governance system that puts community members in leadership positions for as long as the TIF district would exist (20-25 years). We plan to present our proposed TIF District Plan to City Council for approval in 2022, with the TIF District then going into effect on July 1, 2023.


Is this a new tax that I have to pay?
No, this is not a new tax. Some of the taxes already being paid by property owners will be set aside to pay for projects in the Community-Driven Development District.

How would the funding work?
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is kind of like a bank account for a neighborhood. Money comes into this account from a portion of the property taxes paid by property owners within the neighborhood. It can only be spent to buy property and build things in that same neighborhood. The bank account will exist for 20+ years, and every year more money gets deposited from the property taxes paid. Because we know that more money will come into the account each year, we can take out loans to pay for big projects, and then pay back the loans over time.

How will the District be governed?
We are creating a governance model that puts decision-making power in the hands of community members who are vulnerable to displacement. This governance model, and the entire District Plan, will need to be approved by Prosper Portland and City Council.

Will we build sidewalks? Pave the streets?
Building sidewalks and paving streets are the responsibility of Portland Bureau of Transportation. The focus of this project is on investments that prevent gentrification and displacement, and not projects that raise property values and rents.

How can I get involved in the project/process?
For Black, indigenous and tribal people, people of color, renters and low-income people who live in Cully, we hope you will participate in upcoming community meetings and surveys, or reach out directly to Maddie, the Community Engagement and Research Coordinator for this project, at maddienorman@livingcully.org. You can also sign up for the e-mail list.

For other community members who want to support this project, stay tuned! Join the e-mail list and be ready to help us advocate for the community’s vision when the time comes in 2021.

Has anything like this ever been done before?
Yes. Currently The Cully Boulevard Alliance (CBA) and Our 42nd Ave (O42A) are both funded by a TIF process through the City of Portland. We are also studying examples of community-led development districts in other cities to learn from their experiences.

Can we really stop displacement?
We already know tools that are effective and have implemented them here in Cully. So far, 12 small businesses are stable because of Our 42nd’s master leases on retail storefronts. 1163 gentrification-proof affordable homes already exist or are currently in development in Cully. A Community-Driven Development District will allow us to scale up the models already in place, to make a much greater and lasting impact.