Weekday Wrap: Oregon agency approves more than $100 million to build affordable homes statewide

By OPB staff (OPB)
July 12, 2023 7:09 p.m.

Stories you may have missed from staff reports and our news partners around the region

State OKs affordable housing projects in areas hit hard by 2020 fires

Efforts to build more affordable housing in Oregon recently got a boost as more than $100 million in funding requests gained state approval. The Oregon Housing Stability Council recently approved 10 funding requests for affordable housing developments across the state, prioritizing areas hard hit by wildfires in 2020. More than $103.5 million in grants will help build nearly 650 affordable homes in both urban and rural areas. Andrea Bell, director of Oregon Housing and Community Services, called the grants are a crucial step toward addressing Oregon’s housing crisis. But the grants so far approved are less than half the amount requested by developers around the state. A 2021 study estimated that Oregon needs to build more than 580,000 homes by 2040, and nearly half of the new homes need to be affordable for people earning less than median income. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

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Corvallis gene bank for plants begins $13 million renovation

A Corvallis facility that collects and studies plant genes to aid research on sustainable food systems will receive a $13 million renovation. Researchers at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository identify genetic traits in the tissue from 26,000 individual plants — including filberts, hops and fruit trees — and distribute their findings to breeders. Carolyn Scagel, the facility’s acting research leader, said the plants are sourced from all over the world and could be vital to food stability in the future. “We’re conserving not just the genetics of what we know,” she said, “but the genetics of what we don’t know.” (Nathan Wilk/KLCC)

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A campaign to make the Jackson County Board of Commissioners nonpartisan

There’s an effort underway in Southern Oregon to restructure the Jackson County Board of Commissioners by putting ballot measures before voters next year. The group advocating for the changes is called Jackson County for All of Us. They want to change commissioner positions from being partisan to nonpartisan. That way, non-affiliated voters could participate in the primary election. They also want to increase the number of commissioners from three to five, reduce their salaries, and elect commissioners based on geographical district. The petition first needs to be approved by election officials, according to Ashland News. Then, the group would need to gather about 10,000 signatures from registered voters. The proposed ballot measures would then head to voters in November 2024. (Jane Vaughan/Jefferson Public Radio)

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Residents appeal vacation rental decision for historic Astoria building

Late last month, city staff in Astoria granted permission to a couple to convert their fourplex and two cottages near downtown from long-term housing into vacation rentals. Three Astoria residents are appealing the decision, saying it undermines city codes crafted to ease the housing crisis. (Nicole Bales/The Astorian)

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Oregon vintners put an invasive insect in their crosshairs

State lawmakers approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to monitor and suppress the vine mealybug, an invasive insect, before it becomes more widespread. The vine mealybug, first spotted in Oregon in 2021, is a vector for the harmful leafroll virus and can also cause winegrape clusters to grow mold. (George Plaven/Capital Press)

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