Lane County nonprofits will spend millions to build affordable mobile houses for Oregon residents. Manufacturing is scheduled to start in July of next year.
The project is a collaboration between St. Vincent de Paul and HOPE Community Corporation. They want mobile housing in the state that is energy efficient, fire resistant and easily repairable.
Units will be aimed at low-income communities and wildfire victims. State Representative Pam Marsh says that despite previous efforts, Oregon is lacking at least 110,000 housing units for residents.
“If we keep producing housing in the conventional way, the way we’ve been doing it, throwing hammers and throwing up sheet rock, we are never going to get ahead. We have to be innovative, we have to think differently.”
East Lane Commissioner Heather Buch represents an area burned by the 2020 wildfires. She says people there are still living in tents and RVs.
“They need a livable home. And I know that if these were ready today, they would be purchased up right away.”
The Oregon Legislature passed two bills this year that aid the project, providing $15 million in funding and limiting the restrictions that local governments can impose on mobile housing.
Saint Vincent Executive Director Terry McDonald says finding enough qualified labor will be challenging. He is collaborating with The Lane Workforce Partnership to recruit students and community members.
“We will be able to start raising and training the staff that will be staffing this in the long term, not only creating them for this facility, but for the broader marketplace.”
Manufacturing is expected to begin in July 2023, at an unused factory in Eugene. Organizers project that this will create 112 new jobs.