The former Ochoco Elementary School is slated to become Prineville's latest affordable housing complex, with 29 apartments.

The former Ochoco Elementary School is slated to become Prineville’s latest affordable housing complex, with 29 apartments.

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A new affordable housing project could soon help alleviate the extremely tight rental market in Prineville, Oregon.

With the influx of construction laborers and electricians working on Facebook’s third data center, Prineville’s rental vacancy rate is near 0 percent. That means that there are very few, if any, properties available for rent at any given time.

The city planning commission recently voted to move forward with a proposal to convert an old elementary school into housing. The former classrooms of Ochoco Elementary School would become 29 apartments with one, two or three bedrooms that would rent for less than $600 per month. The school’s gym, cafeteria and open spaces may also become community resource centers.

“I think as a community we need to step up,” said Darcy Bedortha, in support of the project at the planning commission meeting. “And I think this is a phenomenal project for that site.” 

Bedortha spoke about how difficult it is for low-income youth to find affordable housing.

The project would be the first of its kind in Prineville and its completion will depend on the developers, Housing Works, securing funding. The proposed architects, Pinnacle Architecture, specialize in designing affordable housing and recently converted another old school in Richland, Washington, into affordable housing units.