Bend, Redmond receive federal housing grants

More than $600,000 could spur new affordable housing projects

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin

Bend and Redmond are expecting more than $600,000 in federal grants to boost the supply of affordable housing over the next year.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development late last month announced cities around the country will receive Community Development Block Grants.

The funds aim to help cities buy or rehabilitate residential properties. In same cases, funds can be used to fix up streets, parks and finance other public improvements that help lower-income residents.

Bend is in line for $417,000 in block grants for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The city has received the grant funds each year since 2003, Bend Affordable Housing Manager Jim Long said Friday.

Bend grappled with a major shortage in affordable housing as the city’s real estate market boomed in the last decade. It’s still a major issue in the city, Long said, as home prices have risen sharply over the last two years.

The city has used block grant funds in the past for a range of programs, including to remodel apartment complexes around town and offer rental assistance for tenants.

Redmond will receive $190,000 in funds, Heather Richards, the city’s community development director, said Friday. It’s the first time Redmond will receive block grant funds, which usually go to cities with 50,000 or more residents. But Redmond applied for funds last fall, and found out in late March it would receive grant money.

The funds “can be used for a lot of different things,” Richards said, “but it needs to go toward creating viable neighborhoods and communities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.”

Long and Richards both said it’s too soon to tell how this year’s batch of funds will be used. Bend’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee will finalize a list of proposals this month, and the city council could vote on them May 2.

Redmond is trying to get the community involved in the process, Richards said. On the city website, a survey asks Redmond residents to vote on a variety of possible programs to vote for, like affordable housing rental assistance, park and playground assistance, youth programs or child care services.

A public hearing on the proposals is scheduled for July.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com