Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today named Andrea (on-DRAY-uh) Bell as Acting Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). Bell serves currently as the Director of Housing Stabilization, where she is a member of the agency’s executive team and leads a division implementing a wide range of homeless services, energy and weatherization assistance, rental assistance programs, and policy initiatives to advance equity and racial justice. She is also recognized for her understanding of the interplay between health and housing outcomes. She will begin serving as Acting Director in February.
“Andrea Bell has the extensive leadership and on-the-ground expertise to ensure a seamless transition for Oregon Housing and Community Services at this critical moment, as we continue to work to help keep Oregonians in their homes,” said Governor Brown. “And, she has the vision to lead the agency as we begin to move from federal and state-funded emergency response to supporting and developing long-term eviction prevention services at the local level. I am confident in her leadership as we work to continue to expand affordable housing in Oregon, strengthen tenant protections, help people experiencing homelessness find homes, and address the deep racial disparities in housing stability and homeownership caused by decades of racism in housing policy in this country.”
“OHCS is in a pivotal moment in continuing to help thousands of Oregon families access stable and affordable housing,” said Director Bell. “Under the leadership of Executive Director Margaret Salazar, this past year was the most impactful in OHCS history with millions of dollars disbursed in emergency response-focused work. During a global health pandemic this assistance provided a lifeline, ensuring thousands of Oregon’s most vulnerable residents could remain stably housed, keeping kids in school, and avoiding slipping into homelessness. In these unfathomable times, it’s an honor to be in the position of guiding the agency work outlined in the Statewide Housing Plan. I am humbled and grateful to continue to advance this work across the housing continuum with talented and dedicated staff to increase housing stability across Oregon. All Oregonians, regardless of their zip code, or where they come from, deserve safe, stable, and affordable housing."
Bell started working for OHCS in April 2019 as the Assistant Director for Homeless Services and became the Director of Housing Stabilization in 2020, where she was a key architect in updating Oregon’s emergency rental assistance program to overcome initial challenges in distributing relief. According to data from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Oregon continues to remain among the top six states in the nation for percent of emergency rental assistance funds distributed. As Assistant Director of Homeless Services, Bell helmed the development and oversight of the homeless services strategic planning and initiatives, including the mobilization of a broad array of rural and urban leaders, which led to socially-just program design, a hybrid funding framework, and the preservation of critical resources. Under her leadership the agency formed new partnerships and alliances including the Housing is our Health initiative with the Oregon Health Authority to bridge the gap between stable housing and personal health.
Before coming to OHCS, Bell was a Housing Administrator for the Medicaid health plan, Mercy Care, where she applied intersecting expertise in housing and health services to bring innovative Medicaid investments to affordable housing development. At Mercy Care, she led a team focused on the administration of 4,100 permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing units for people experiencing homelessness with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
Bell earned a master’s degree of public health from Arizona State University and a bachelor's degree from California State University Northridge.
A photo of Bell can be found here.