Lane County’s strong commitment to housing and shelter is demonstrated by its Housing Improvement Plan. by Pat Farr

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

In 2018 Lane County Board of Commissioners, in its budget process, allocated $2,000,000 to its newly formed Housing Improvement Plan (HIP).

Lane County and the Homes for Good Housing Authority are partnering to break ground on this 51-apartment housing first project, The Commons on MLK, adjacent to Lane County Behavioral Health campus.  It is one of five permanent supportive housing projects recently funded in part by Lane County’s Housing Improvement Plan.

On January 12 the board gave $1.5m to five local housing projects that had been selected through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

The announcement the Board of Commissioners posted in 2018 stated:
“Lane County hereby solicits applications from cities, public agencies, private foundations, non-profit charities, healthcare organizations, affordable housing developers and supportive services providers for planning, development, and construction of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). Applications may include new construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of existing units for PSH. 

In addition to Permanent Supportive housing needs, Lane County recognizes that housing affordability is a significant countywide issue, particularly as it relates to the diversity, supply and affordability of housing options. Therefore, the County will also consider proposals that offer solutions to the broader challenges of housing affordability and that designate some of the units for PSH.”

The projects selected are directly tied to the Lane County Strategic Plan and the Poverty and Homelessness Board’s Strategic Plan.  The Poverty and Homelessness Board’s Governance Charter guides its ongoing work.  The PHB charter and strategic plan lay within Lane County’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.

The projects selected for funding by the Board of Commissioners are:

  • Tiny House project, $200,000: Permanent supportive housing for individuals with criminal histories vulnerable to homelessness due to a shortage of affordable housing available to those with felony convictions. Five duplexes will be built to 10 people to live in on property adjacent to Sponsors’ Roosevelt Crossing facility. Sponsors will own and manage the units, offering below-market rents. Construction is slated to begin this spring.
  • Polk Apartments expansion, $550,000: Permanent supportive housing for 10 former foster youth who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. A mix of studio and single-room occupancy units will be added to an existing complex that currently houses 12 former foster youth for a total of 22. NEDCO owns the property and will manage the units. Construction is set to begin this fall.
  • Cottage Village project, $500,000: Thirteen tiny houses will provide affordable housing for those with low incomes (under 50 percent of median income) or very low incomes (under 30 percent of median income). The community will be built by SquareOne Villages and operate as a limited-equity housing cooperative. Construction is slated to begin this month.
  • Legion Cottages project, $250,000: A joint project of the American Legion, City of Cottage Grove and Homes for Good, it will develop four tiny homes to serve homeless veterans referred and case managed by the St. Vincent de Paul Vet LIFT program, which serves homeless veterans dually diagnosed with substance abuse and mental health issues. Construction is slated to begin this fall.
  • The Commons on MLK, $500,000: Fifty-one units of permanent supportive housing primarily targeted toward chronically homeless individuals who meet Frequent Users Systems Engagement criteria. Lane County also has transferred property adjacent to Lane County Behavioral Health to Homes for Good for this project. Construction is scheduled to begin in June.

These projects help fulfill goals of the HIP that include:

 Seed and incentivize a community effort to build Permanent Supportive Housing and to increase the supply of affordable housing in Lane County.

 Spark investment and leverage other public and private sector partners.

 Move quickly, with clearly defined outcomes, budgets and timelines to catalyze shovel-ready projects.

 

Addressing Housing Needs by Pat Farr

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I think that every parent who has chosen to live in Eugene or close by harbors the dream, someplace inside, that their kids will live here too.  This is a great place to live for all of the reasons you know:  close to the ocean and to the snow in the mountains; amazing rivers and recreation minutes from home; not too big, but big enough to find most things you want or need; you are surrounded by open land and clean air and our public schools are in fact the best in the state.

And, oh, yes, we take care of people and families in need.  For instance, our food distribution system to those who are hungry is second to none in America.  We have neighbors who need help and we are glad to give it: even though we are aware that for a score of reasons we can never solve the problem, we address the symptoms.

Housing, like food, is a basic need that everybody deserves.  Here we have what has been called a housing ladder that is in place to address the continuum of shelter needs that exist.  Our goal has to be that every kid has a place to live.  Every adult, too, but let’s start with the kids.  Kids who are dependent on adults for their basic needs have little choice in the matter of where they live.  So we must make sure that as much is done as possible to offer their guardians choices.

The housing ladder starts by addressing homeless needs with emergency shelters for temporary stay or overnight survival.  This bare minimum is followed by modest subsidized housing, often small apartments, where households can establish a stable place to live.  Moving up the ladder we have larger, family oriented complexes that provide shelter and other services such as playgrounds, open space, day care, training, etc.  Then we have projects that allow rental to ownership giving families a chance to establish their own homes in their own houses.  After that people have choices of where to live in our community:  multi-family private housing or single family dwellings.

Some families, like my friends Manuel and Sara who, with their children, were able to move from the very first step in the housing ladder to their ultimate goal:  they now own their own home in an established neighborhood.  It’s a dream story, one for the books.

In north Eugene a project is being planned, Bascom Village, off County Farm Road, that might provide as many as 101 varied-sized units for people to live.  They will not be deluxe, but they will be comfortable, safe and offer stability that we all hope our kids and our neighbors can have.

But problems arise when such projects are planned, and the first and most likely people to point them out are the people who will be closest affected by the addition of multi-unit complexes into their midst:  the established neighbors.

Such is the case with Bascom Village.  The neighbors have had much opportunity since the project was announced to weigh in on their concerns, and the concerns are legitimate.

Yesterday the Intergovernmental Housing Policy Board considered the many hours and pages of public input and put forward a recommendation to the Eugene City Council regarding how to move forward with the project.

For a news story on the Housing Policy Board recommendation go to:

http://kezi.com/news/local/230582

For more details of the project see:

http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_368213_0_0_18/Bascom_Village_Sections_1_thru_4.pdf

Last week I attended a public forum during which the neighbors and others voiced their concerns and support:

http://www.myeugene.org/2011/10/27/ne-neighbors-and-city-host-public-forum-on-affordable-housing-project-video/

The Council will now consider the project as recommended and has the task of choosing how to move forward:  accept the recommendation from the board, make modifications or kill the project.

Lower cost housing is needed in our community and this project addresses stated goals to provide such.

The Council will hear about concerns in four basic areas:  schools, transportation, project dispersal policies and “not in my back yard.”  No concerns were brought forward that do not deserve consideration.  Addressing the concerns in a way that satisfies the people most affected will be paramount in Council deliberation.  Stay tuned.