Andrea Bell leads Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), the agency responsible for leading the production and preservation of affordable housing, financing, and coordination across the housing continuum. She was appointed to the top post in 2022 after serving as OHCS’ director of housing stabilization, where she led the implementation of a wide range of homeless services, rental assistance programs, and other initiatives.
Achievements: OHCS led the production of historic housing production in Oregon; this includes adding more than 25,000 affordable homes into the pipeline, advancing more than 1,200 permanent supportive housing units, and spurring the creation of more than 3,000 affordable homes in the state’s rural communities. A recent report ranks Oregon among the top in the nation for affordable housing standards around healthy building practices, energy efficiency, and racial equity.
Bell testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the key role low-income housing tax credits and private-activity bonds play in creating affordable housing. She also played a pivotal role in Oregon winning federal approval for groundbreaking Medicaid changes, including receiving funding for housing, which was part of a vast effort to end homelessness in the state.
Where it began: The daughter of a social worker and granddaughter of an agricultural worker, Bell started as a homeless outreach worker on the streets of Los Angeles.
Skills that have helped the most in her career: Asking questions. Listening to people in the communities. “Our mandate is to be in lockstep and understand community needs.”
Quote: “Housing is a critical determinant of health. It tells us about the health of a community and the health of us on an individual level as well. It is imperative for me to relentlessly pursue inclusive housing progress that people can see and feel.”
Family: Bell and her husband have two children, three dogs, and a tortoise.
Active with: National Council of State Housing Agencies and Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek’s Housing Production Advisory Committee.