Veterans and low-income families say they would welcome a $17 million housing project proposed at 217 N. Ross Lane that is scheduled for a September groundbreaking.

"I'm all for it," said Julia Parra, a 38-year-old who lives on her family's property adjacent to the 64-unit project called Newbridge Place. "People have a right to live somewhere."

Parra said she supports low-income housing in general and favors setting aside some of the units for veterans. Her only concern is whether runoff from the development will make some flooding issues on her family's property worse.

The Jackson County Housing Authority is working through approvals from the city for the apartments, located just north of the Albertsons shopping center on West Main Street.

"Hopefully, we will be breaking ground late summer or fall," said Jason Elzy, director of development at the Housing Authority. "We're targeting September."

He said 12 of the units will be set aside for veterans.

The two-story complex will look similar to a cottage-style development on Spring Street known as the Cherry Street apartments.

Workers have installed fencing around the North Ross Lane property, which is currently a vacant field.

The Housing Authority is working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will provide referrals for veterans interested in living in the units.

Other than the veterans, the tenants for the remaining units will be chosen through a lottery, Elzy said.

Newbridge will include a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units designed for families, individuals and the disabled.

To qualify for the housing, a family of four would need to earn no more than $26,650, or 50 percent of the median income. An individual would need to earn no more than 50 percent of the median income, or $18,700.

Even with the new project, Elzy said it will barely make a dent in the need for low-income housing in the valley. Elzy said there are about 4,000 people in the county on a low-income housing list.

The Housing Authority, which has about 1,300 units in Southern Oregon, recently completed a 50-unit complex, The Concord, on North Grape Street behind the Mail Tribune. 

The Newbridge Place project will require spending about $1 million for infrastructure, particularly to ensure good road access, Elzy said. Some of the money will come from Community Development Block Grants approved through the city of Medford.

The Housing Authority would be taking out a special tax-credit $12 million loan to help finance the bulk of the project.

Elzy said other Housing Authority projects are well maintained, and Newbridge Place will get the same care.

"We build them to last and maintain them to last," he said.

Kevin Stine, a community support specialist for veterans at ACCESS Inc. and a Medford city councilor, said, "I think it's really effective when you have things set aside for veterans that would presumably be forever."

ACCESS is also gearing up to build Victory Place Apartments, a 17-unit complex on North Front Street that is specifically for veterans.

Stine, who's also a veteran, said he's seeing a trend toward more veteran-specific projects.

He said the Veterans Affairs housing voucher program known as VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) has been effective.

VASH is a collaboration between the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help veterans who are homeless and their families find permanent housing.

The Veterans HUD-VASH is a collaborative program between HUD and VA that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA support services to help veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing.

— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.