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Talent to get affordable housing project

A 72-unit affordable housing project targeted to provide homes for migrant families displaced by the Almeda fire is coming to Talent with $7.56 million in help from a state of Oregon program.

“In addition to migrant farm workers, the real target of this will be folks who are displaced by the fire,” said Daryn Murphy, vice president of development for Commonwealth Development Corporation, which will create and run the project.

Seventy-two units, split equally between two- and three-bedroom apartments, will be built in six buildings. The 3.5-acre site, at 232 Talent Ave., was previously the site of Old Pacific Mobile Village, which closed in July 2009. Commonwealth is in the process of closing the land sale.

Oregon’s Housing Stability Council approved the Local Innovation and Fast Track funding for the project, to be named Renaissance Flats, June 4, said Connor McDonnell with the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department.

Occupants’ income must fall between 30% and 60% of the median income for the area. Units will be priced according to income.

“We have a statewide housing plan. Working on equity and equal justice, it is really important that the developers are intentional and providing culturally specific services. That was something we are happy to see (with this project),” said McDonnell.

Commonwealth is collaborating with local nonprofit Natives of One Wind Indigenous Alliance (NOWIA Unete) through a memorandum of understating to assist with leasing of the property and residential services

“They will be working closely with us because they are working with a lot of families that were displaced by the fire,” said Murphy. “We will be working hand-in-hand when it comes time to lease the units to make sure we are meeting the needs of the families that are out there.”

Medford-based NOWIA Unete was founded in 1996 to aid farm workers and immigrants. In addition, Commonwealth has signed a memorandum of understanding with ACCESS to collaborate on resident services. That’s because ACCESS is also working with families displaced by the fire, said Murphy.

Several strategies will be employed at the project to provide equitable access to marginalized communities, said McDonnell. Those will include targeted outreach, materials in appropriate languages and translation services that reflect community demographics.

State funding is an outright grant for the project that comes from the LIFT program. The bulk of the development will be funded by $14,445,000 in federal tax-exempt revenue bonds.

In response to the growing housing crisis in Oregon, state leaders made available general obligation bonds to create the Local Innovation and Fast Track housing program in 2015 with a charge to serve rural communities and communities of color. OHCS designed LIFT with the intent of leveraging it with federal 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits and multifamily conduit bonds to spur the rural housing supply.

A rough site plan has been created and an architect with the firm will begin working on detailed designs. The company will need to get construction approvals from Talent’s Community Development Department, but the land is already zones for multifamily residential use.

Construction could begin in the first quarter of next year, with units projected to open a year later, said Murphy. The firm will be looking for local area subcontractors to perform much of the work.

Besides the housing, there will be a leasing office, community room and fitness center. Other amenities will include outdoor garden areas, a playground, internet access and in-unit washers and dryers.

Talent officials have talked about implementing affordable housing requirements for a half-dozen years, but there are no specific criteria yet. In May, Talent City Council delayed action on an 11-unit housing project so the possibility of including an affordable unit could be explored.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.