Affordable housing in the works

In an effort to solve the affordable housing crisis the community is facing, Bend City Councilors unanimously approved the 2015 Affordable Housing Fee Funding Recommendations from the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

“The committee really parsed through these this year pretty hard,” said Jim Long, affordable housing manager for the City of Bend. “They were basically looking for two things: Those that could get on the ground the fastest, and those that could get the most units up.”

The recommendations were as follows:

Bend Area Habitat for Humanity received $82,250 for land acquisition financing to help purchase a property to build four attached single-family homes for families between 35-60 percent of the Area Median Income.

Housing Works received $185,000 that will be utilized as a construction loan for local builders to construct two energy-efficient homes for the purpose of providing affordable owner-occupied workforce housing for households at or below 80 percent Area Median Income. Upon completion, the homes will be sold to qualified households and the land will be placed in the HomeQuest Ground Lease program

Steve and Tami Rzonca received $358,000 for the Revere Avenue Renaissance project, a private-sector undertaking to provide affordable housing. The project will entail development of two RM-zoned parcels into a six-lot subdivision. Affordable Housing Funding will provide seven new affordable housing dwelling units.

Pacific Crest Affordable Housing received $458,000 for a 48-unit project on Bend’s west side, that will provide housing for workforce/family households earning equal to or less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

Councilor Victor Chudowsky said he was happy to see the largest project, the Pacific Crest Affordable Housing project,  is going to be built on the west side. He said there’s an incorrect  perception that expansions, in terms of the Urban Growth Boundary, are only happening to the east because land is supposedly cheaper.

“It shows that we can build affordable housing anywhere throughout the city; it doesn’t have to all be clustered in one part of town,” Chudowsky said.

Long agreed.

“If you get creative you can do it anywhere,” Long said.

According to the issue summary from the City of Bend, these projects will provide a positive impact to the community by improving the supply of affordable housing and increasing employment opportunities to local realtors, contractors and building material suppliers.

Along the theme of housing, Stephanie Senner, a member of the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board, shared with councilors how the lack of housing is impacting businesses.

“I’m here tonight to encourage you to do whatever you can to improve housing availability in our city, including pressing for local adoption of the Urban Growth Boundary as soon as you’re able,” Senner said, after clarifying she was speaking on behalf of herself, a concerned citizen, not representing any company or board. “This is important to the business community, because workers at all levels, from seasonal labor to skilled tradesmen and women, to executives, can’t find housing.”

When Senner relocated to Bend in 2013, she said it took her and her family about four months to find housing.

More housing availability will not only help the people who are moving to the area, but the existing residents, Senner said.

This lack of housing forces employers to increase wages or to move out of Bend all together, she said. It also causes people to have to live in neighboring communities, which, in turn, puts more miles on the roads in Bend and carbon emissions into the air.

Senner said there needs to be diverse housing options to serve the different population segments so Bend remains a vibrant and diverse city.

“There are a lot of things we can do within our own city to change zoning and make sure we have more land available for housing,” she said. “UGB…. Get that passed!”




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