State comes through with housing funds

LIFT program boosts 90-unit build

By Joseph Ditzler, The Bulletin, @josefditzler

Housing Works, the public housing authority for Central Oregon, plans to build 90 apartment and townhome units for low-income households in Sisters and La Pine.

Oregon Housing and Community Services awarded the housing authority $3.6 million in state funding to underwrite construction, which also relies on low-income housing tax credits. The total cost to build the two projects comes to about $14.5 million. The state share is part of the Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing Program.

“We’re trying to start (construction), if all goes well, in June, and bring them on in spring of next year,” said Housing Works Executive Director Tom Kemper. Housing Works would open the leasing list about three months prior to occupancy, he said.

Design and construction will fall to Home First Development, a Portland firm that builds affordable housing, he said. Deschutes County gave Housing Works the property on which to build, essentially, Kemper said.

The La Pine Townhomes project, on 2.5 acres, calls for 42 units in the southwest part of town less than a mile from schools, shopping and other resources. La Pine has an immediate need for workforce housing, as what little rental property is available is in generally poor shape, Kemper said.

“A lot of people work in Sunriver and commute and it’s really difficult for them to find a decent place to live,” he said, “so we’ve been focusing on the kind of financing that will help us do that.”

The project entails a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

In Sisters, Housing Works plans 48 apartments, also a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, on 2.12 acres west of Ray’s Food Place on U.S. Highway 20. The project is called Village Meadows Apartments.

“I think Sisters definitely has a higher rent and a lack of rental property because of the nature of the community,” said Sisters City Manager Rick Allen. “It’s not conducive to multifamily (projects), even at market rate.”

The city pitched in about $300,000 in waivers and funds to help the project, he said. The 48 units planned for Sisters won’t solve the lack of affordable housing in the city, but will provide housing for the workforce that businesses in the city need. Housing Works purchased the property for the apartment complex, Kemper said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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