Sisters neighborhood kicks off affordable housing surge

City officials expect more affordable housing proposals this year

By Aaron West, The Bulletin

A small, partially finished neighborhood in northeast Sisters is at the forefront of a long-awaited affordable housing surge taking place.

The subdivision, which is called Skygate, is the first affordable development to be built in the city since 2003, said Patrick Davenport, community development director for Sisters. While individual homes built by Sisters Habitat for Humanity have been going up around Sisters since the early ’90s, Davenport said the seven-home Skygate neighborhood is the beginning of a string of affordable developments the city expects will be built over the next few years.

Housing Works’ 48-unit affordable housing complex called Meadow Village Apartments is scheduled to start construction next summer, Davenport said. The city is reviewing another subdivision, ClearPine, with affordable housing offerings. Plans for a third affordable housing project — McKenzie Meadows Village — are also expected to be resubmitted later this year after the original plans, submitted for approval in 2009, were derailed by procedural issues in 2015.

“Finally some of these are just coming to pass,” Davenport said, noting that the Skygate homes were originally part of the plans for a different subdivision that the city approved 10 years ago. “It’s taken awhile.”

Housing Works, which is Central Oregon’s housing authority, and the social services and housing nonprofit NeighborImpact are working together on Skygate. Three of the homes in the neighborhood are already built, and offers have been made on two of them, Kemper said. The remaining four homes will be completed later this year.

The seven single-family homes that will be sold to people who make 80 percent or less of the area median income, which is $50,439, Housing Works Director Tom Kemper said.

Part of the reason the homes will be considered affordable, he explained, is due to a ground lease program that helps to lower the price. Impact Housing — the joint venture between Housing Works and NeighborImpact — will continue to own the property the house is on and a buyer will be able to purchase the home for about $180,000, with financing, and then lease the land for $85 a month.

Additionally, the city has committed to waiving the system development charges — fees charged to builders to pay for streets, sewers and other systems — which Davenport said will add up to nearly $50,000 in savings.

The city will also contribute $300,000 in waivers and grants to the Meadow Village Apartment project, Davenport said. That Housing Works development will be built on a 2-acre parcel off of W. McKinney Butte Road and is expected to be finished in mid-2018. Kemper said those apartments will be rented to people who make 60 percent or less of the area median income.

The Skygate homes, which the city approved in June 2015, were originally a condition of a agreement the city had with developer Shane Lungren when he submitted his plans for Sun Ranch, a different subdivision, in 2007. Lungren said the city’s requirement of seven affordable homes was too aggressive for his 45-home subdivision.

“That’s a high percentage,” he said. “But we wanted approval so we did it.”

The 2008 recession postponed his development plans, but when the economy recovered Lungren sold the parcels the seven homes were slated to be built on to Housing Works for $5,000.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,

awest@bendbulletin.com

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