Bend’s affordable housing advisory committee wants to use $1 million in low-interest city loans to get more than 50 new affordable homes built and add more beds at a homeless shelter.
On Wednesday, the committee discussed how to distribute the funds from the city’s affordable housing fee among five applicants. All five will get some money if the Bend City Council approves the committee’s recommendations later this year.
“If I were to characterize this funding decision, I would say we attempted to maximize our resources, and we attempted to prioritize the number of rooms,” said committee member Priscilla Buck.
Housing Works, Central Oregon’s regional housing authority, will receive the largest sum. The agency requested $750,000 to buy land on NE Conners Avenue that will eventually house a three-story, 34-unit building to be rented to people making 50 percent or less of the area’s median income.
Housing Works intends to develop the ground floor as medical and commercial space, using as its model a similar project Housing Works and Mosaic Medical developed in Redmond in 2017.
The committee recommended funding the entire project, with about $409,000 coming from the city’s affordable housing fee and the remaining approximately $372,000 coming from federal Community Development Block Grant funds funneled through the city.
Committee members said they wanted to prioritize Housing Works because its project will be ready to start construction sooner than others. Housing Works estimates it can have all 34 apartments built and rented by March 2022.
“My understanding of this is we’re trying to get a lot of units out the door as quickly as possible,” said Matt Martino, a committee member and home loan officer at Umpqua Bank.
Bend Area Habitat for Humanity will get slightly more than $364,000 to use for infrastructure improvements for two affordable home neighborhoods it intends to build. Habitat plans to start construction on nine cottages near NW Portland Avenue and NW College Way in June and eight condos on Watercress Way near NE 18th Street and Empire Avenue in August.
Receiving less than the $500,000 requested will mean it will take longer to build future projects because Habitat will have to use more of its own resources, Executive Director Scott Rohrer said.
Committee member Adam Bledsoe, a broker at Compass Commercial Real Estate Services, said a downside to funding Habitat is how long it can take to repay the city’s loans. Funds from the affordable housing fee are provided as low interest loans, and in Habitat’s case, a portion of that loan is assumed by future homeowners. They typically don’t start repaying those loans until 31 years later — after repaying a standard 30-year mortgage.
“A doughnut with no holes is not a doughnut, and a loan that never gets repaid is more of a grant,” Bledsoe said.
The committee’s quickest decision was to allocate up to $10,000 to Pacific Crest to reimburse property taxes the developer was charged on its 50-unit Northwest Crossing affordable housing project Azimuth 315 because the city approved a tax exemption but didn’t file paperwork in time with the county.
Pacific Crest is appealing the county’s property valuation and thinks the tax bill may be reduced. If that happens, any extra money would be allocated to Bethlehem Inn instead.
Bend’s main homeless shelter will receive $117,000, plus any leftover money from Pacific Crest, to use toward finishing its 16,140-square-foot residential facility for single adults. The new building will have beds for 110 people, an increase from the current capacity of 84, and will be accessible to people with disabilities.
Bethlehem Inn asked for $195,000 but will receive only 60 percent of that. Committee members, including David Haines, a workforce developer, said they supported giving Bethlehem Inn less than it asked for because the shelter doesn’t provide long-term housing.
“Our job is to get supply on the market,” Haines said. “As valuable as Bethlehem Inn is, that isn’t what they do.”
But member Richard Bonebrake, an affordable housing tenant, said he thought the city should fully fund the shelter’s request.
“A lot of people wouldn’t get the opportunity to have housing if they didn’t go through Bethlehem Inn,” he said.
Kôr, a community land trust, will receive half of the $200,000 it requested to purchase land for a cottage development. The relatively new nonprofit organization is working with Housing Works on its first cottage development after receiving city funds last year, and it hopes to begin work on its next project.
The community land trust model has residents own homes but the trust owns the land those homes sit on, and it’s intended to keep homes affordable in perpetuity.
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