Bend City Council this week approved $1.3 million that will go toward three new affordable housing developments. The projects will create more than 400 units of affordable housing in the coming years.
Bend remains among Oregon’s fastest-growing cities, which has contributed to a housing shortage in recent years. The city doesn’t have enough available housing, particularly for low- and middle-income people, nor does it have adequate shelter space and transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness. Continued population growth makes it harder to shrink those deficits.
“We have to continually be developing in a way that addresses those needs three, four or five years down the road because growth here is not slowing down,” said Bend affordable housing coordinator Racheal Baker. “And the current pandemic hasn’t slowed growth down.”
Projects approved for funding Wednesday by the City Council aim to fill some of the gaps in the market.
Two will be multi-family apartment complexes with more than 200 units apiece.
One project led by Housing Works would be part of a pilot project approved by the Oregon Legislature to expand Bend’s urban growth boundary. The complex would offer rental units to households making less than 60% of the area median income, which is between $50,000 and $80,000.
Another called the Mary Rose Apartments in the Mountain View neighborhood would set aside units for households making less than 30%, 50% and 60% of the median income, and about 50 units for seniors. Related Northwest proposed that project.
The third project is the Central Oregon Veterans Village, which has already broken ground, to help transition veterans out of homelessness. The Bend Heroes Foundation is building the village and will turn it over to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach to manage upon completion.
“Our objective is to take 15 homeless veterans out of the woods — and conditions that are unsuitable for human habitation, is what they are — and to get them into transitional housing where they will be able to live in a dignified environment,” said Dick Tobiason, chair of the Bend Heroes Foundation.
The village will include 15 heated and insulated tiny homes with a bed, table and chairs, bathroom and closet as well as a community center with wrap-around services like showers, dining and case management.
Tobiason said the city has an ambitious affordable housing plan and that he’s glad the veterans village is part of it.
An estimated 1,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in Central Oregon.
Bend’s roadmap for easing the housing shortage includes establishing temporary and emergency shelters in the short term while seeking out permanent affordable and transitional housing options in the long term.
Money approved by City Council will come from Bend’s Affordable Housing Fund, which is fed by a fee applied to new building permits. It came available in October of last year. The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee sifted through applications and presented their nominees for funding to Council on Wednesday.
In the opening months of 2021, the city has also approved a purchase and sale agreement for a motel it hopes to convert to transitional housing. Bend has also adjusted zoning codes to allow high-density housing in some parts of the city previously off-limits.