SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announced the approval of 34 new homeownership development projects that will lead to the creation of 337 new affordable homes. The goal is to increase homeownership opportunities of low- to moderate-income people and families in rural and urban communities over the next three years.
OHCS released a notice of funding availability (NOFA) in December 2022 and received 53 applications for about $65 million in available funding. All the developments focus on building housing that is responsive to their community’s needs and are using innovative, climate friendly, and accessible design methods. Some of the funding will be used to advance culturally responsive approaches and increase homeownership opportunities for members of Oregon’s federally recognized Tribes.
“Oregon has a vast network of partners committed to building housing that will not only be affordable for homebuyers now but will support wealth building that will impact future generations,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell. “This is especially true in rural areas of our state where housing prices have skyrocketed preventing many families from realizing their dream of buying a home.”
Among many projects, the pre-development and capacity building funds will support Wallowa Resources to hire staff to focus on the development of a 21-acre site that will lead to the construction of 10-20 affordable homes in Joseph, an area that has fallen behind in building housing.
Of the seven Homeownership Development projects funded by General Funds, the Williams & Russell CDC Homeownership Project is to build 20 townhomes on land acquired through eminent domain for urban renewal in the early 1970s to make way for the expansion of Emanuel Hospital, now owned by Legacy Health. In 2017, Legacy Health, Prosper Portland, and the City of Portland formed a collaborative project to develop the vacant property left at North Russell Street and North Williams Avenue. Historically, the site once was part of a thriving community where many Black families lived in Portland. Through a community-driven process led by Black leaders, Legacy, the current property owner, is donating the land to the Williams & Russell CDC to realize four community priorities: support for entrepreneurs, affordable rental housing, affordable homeownership, and education/workforce training.
“This funding helps create a path forward for the Black community in Portland to reclaim land ownership where it was once taken from them,” said Bryson E. Davis, president of Williams & Russell CDC. “By lowering the barrier to entry, future homeowners are afforded the opportunity to participate in generational wealth building and create a sense of belonging in a centrally located neighborhood and in a range of housing types informed by community input.”
And, in Blue River, a wildfire recovery area, Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) funds will support a new community land trust (CLT) created by a group of residents. With the help of developer DevNW, McKenzie CLT will build six new homes for those who lost their homes in the Holiday Farm Fire.
A full list of projects approved for funding can be found on the OHCS website.