Future Ready Oregon initiative brings focus to making homes more attainable for Oregonians
(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today announced five housing pilot projects across the state as part of her Future Ready Oregon initiative. The Workforce Housing Initiative, led by the Governor’s Regional Solutions Cabinet, was designed to form partnerships between local communities, the business sector, and private developers to address the housing shortage for working families in Oregon. The Regional Solutions Cabinet includes the directors of six statewide agencies, including Oregon Housing and Community Services, one of the principal agencies involved in the pilot program.
“Our state has grown at a rapid pace over the past eight years, which brings more vibrancy to our communities and to our economy. But with growth comes growing pains, which we feel most acutely as working families try to find a home that is right for them. In all of our communities, even if someone is qualified for a job, they may not be able to live near it,” said Governor Brown. “These pilot projects will provide over 115 Oregon families with safe, stable homes near their work places and inform our plans for accelerating the growth of Oregon’s housing market to match that of the state’s economy.”
“This initiative illustrates the potential of public-private partnerships to address business retention and expansion challenges due to the lack of attainable housing,” said Oregon Housing and Community Services Director Margaret Salazar. “These pilots will help us learn how best to bring together businesses ready to expand, cities and counties ready to invest in infrastructure, developers ready to build homes, and, most critically, current and future employees ready to better their careers.”
The Governor’s Regional Solutions Cabinet selected the five pilots with a focus on employer engagement, as well as the potential for scaling up and replication across the state. There was high demand for financial and technical assistance across the 31 applications received.
- In Donald, the local agricultural equipment manufacturer GK Machine and the City of Donald have partnered to propose expanding the community. The first phase of the pilot will include upgrading the city’s wastewater and water treatment plants to support 95 new homes, with an eventual planned total of 465 new homes.
- In Pacific City, Nestucca Ridge Development, the locally-owned parent company of Pelican Brewing Company, will construct 12 homes on several acres they currently own. They will pre-lease six of those to their local employees, over half of whom currently commute from outside of Tillamook County.
- In Warm Springs, the Jefferson County School District currently owns 8 small homes built in the 1950s that surround the former elementary school. The pilot project will rehabilitate these existing properties and build one new home, making all of them available for local elementary and middle school teachers at the Warm Springs K-8 Academy.
- In Harney County, local officials will run a study to assess local workforce housing needs. The study will inventory existing housing, identify gaps, and create a strategic implementation and business plan to leverage investments, engage employers and create job opportunities.
- In Lincoln County, new income-qualified homebuyers will have opportunities to purchase a home through Proud Ground. Proud Ground uses a land trust model to combine a subsidy to lower the purchase price of homes on the open market with land lease and affordability covenants. Lincoln County, Newport, and Lincoln City will invest matching funds as well as partner with the local school district and other employers.
The pilot projects are still subject to successful negotiations and compliance with state and local processes. After compliance with the program requirements, the pilots will begin launching in the coming months.
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