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Oregon sends $30 million for fire relief housing

Six projects that would provide 425 housing units on tap to receive the money
Oregon Housing and Community Services has awarded $7.5 million to purchase Talent Mobile Estates, which was destroyed by the Almeda fire in 2020, and turn it into a resident-owned cooperative. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Talent Mobile Estates off Arnos Road in Talent is one of six projects being funded to help provide 425 housing units for people displaced by the 2020 Almeda fire. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

Oregon Housing and Community Services has awarded $30 million to fund six projects to help provide 425 housing units for people displaced by the 2020 Almeda fire. Among the awards is $7.5 million to purchase Talent Mobile Estates and turn it into a resident-owned cooperative.

OHCS used federal and state funds to help organizations that are offering different types of housing, including apartments, homes for ownership, manufactured homes and senior cottages. Efforts will be made to reach out to minority and low-income populations to make them aware of the opportunities.

“This will have benefit for fire survivors. It will be critical support to those residents,” said Jason Elzy, Housing Authority of Jackson County executive director. His organization applied for the money when OHCS called for applications to assist low-income residents affected by the fire.

The Housing Authority was awarded $9 million toward two different apartment complexes totaling 196 units. New Spirit Village and Proud Ground will receive $4.3 million for 84 houses. AGE+ was awarded $3.18 million for 22 senior cottages in Talent. CASA of Oregon will receive $7.5 million for a trailer park project and another $6.06 million for 34 rental apartments.

CASA has created 22 tenant-owned trailer parks in Oregon over 13 years, said Executive Director Peter Hainley. CASA received a bridge loan from OHCS for the Talent Mobile Estates project because there was a deadline to purchase the property from the current owners.

“The state intends to make sure we can get this project funded,” said Hainley. A more detailed application for funding will be made at a later date, he said. The site will house 89 units. Most of the park burned in the fire.

In addition to helping with the land purchase, OHCS will provide new manufactured or modular homes at no cost. Those who were displaced from the park by the fire will be given first preference, said Hainley.

“This one is a little different since all the other parks were fully occupied with units. This is basically starting from scratch,” said Hainley. The current owner has nearly completed rehabilitation of park infrastructure. Ten units that did not burn are currently occupied.

CASA will work with Talent-based Coalicion Forteleza and other groups to identify people eligible for ownership. Hainley said he hopes units can be moved in beginning in spring or summer 2023, but that supply chain issues for manufactured and modular homes makes timing uncertain.

Members would elect a board of directors to run the park and approve changes in rent. In other owner-controlled parks, rent increases typically have been minimal, said Hainley.

CASA will also build the Summit Gardens apartment project at 915 Broad St., in Medford. Summit Gardens is a 34-unit project for agricultural workers displaced by the 2020 Almeda and Obenchain fires. The development will be a two-story, garden-style residential building with seven studios, 10 one-bedrooms, 10 two-bedrooms and six three-bedroom units, with a two-bedroom manager’s unit.

“CASA usually doesn’t own property. We’ll hire a professional property management firm,” said Hainley. Rentals will be available for residents making up to 60% of the area median income.

HAJC will develop Orchard Meadows at 1634 Orchard Home Drive and Prescott Gardens at 2160 N. Keene Way Drive. The agency would manage the sites and all rentals would be income restricted.

Orchard Meadows will consist of eight two-story and four three-story residential buildings and a one-story community building. The unit mix consists of 20 one-bedrooms, 55 two-bedrooms and 22 three-bedroom units, with a two-bedroom manager’s unit.

Prescott Gardens will consist of seven two-story and three three-story garden-style residential buildings and a one-story community building. The unit mix consists of 29 one-bedrooms, 35 two-bedrooms and 33 three-bedroom units, with a two-bedroom manager’s unit.

HAJC already owns the sites, and plans have been prepared for both projects. Elzy said he expects the project to go to bid in the near future with groundbreaking this fall. Completion is estimated to take 18 to 24 months. The cost for both projects is estimated at $75 million. Investors who would receive federal disaster housing tax credits will be sought to finance the projects.

Talent Senior Apartments is a new senior-housing cottage cluster located in Talent on Suncrest Road between Highway 99 and Autumn Ridge Road created by AGE+. It will include 22 one-story, prefabricated, cottage-style, one-bedroom homes of 532 square feet that will be completely accessible to persons living with physical disabilities.

Talent will be the first project for AGE+, which began operation in 2019, said Stephanie Hooper, who is with the organization. Purchase of the property is in process. AGE+ would retain ownership and hire a management firm. Rents would be for people receiving 60% or less of the area median income. Plans have already been completed, and if approvals are received, groundbreaking could occur in September or October, with occupancy as soon as May 2023.

New Spirit Village on Meadow Lane in west Medford is proposed to be a prototype community of affordable homes that would be built using 3D printed concrete construction. A total of 84 homes, half of them restricted at 80% of the area median income, would consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts arranged with common areas. The other half would be restricted for sale to households at or below 120% of AMI.

A community building, also built using 3D printing technology, would be constructed as a “Resiliency HUB.” A playground on site for children is also planned. The project still must be approved by the Medford Planning Commission.

Proud Ground and New Spirit Village are partnering with ACCESS to provide homebuyer education courses to prospective buyers.

A total of $70 million, including the money for Jackson County, was awarded by OHCS to construct 625 units of affordable housing in wildfire affected counties. Other awards were made in Clackamas, Marion and Lincoln counties.

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