Goal is for more homes to match the rate of growth
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As the year comes to an end, the city of Bend has recapped its efforts to boost the supply of affordable housing.
The city of Bend is still growing by leaps and bounds, causing the housing market to skyrocket. There is a greater need for workforce housing and single-family units throughout Bend.
City of Bend Affordable Housing Manager Lynne McConnell gave NewsChannel 21 some insight to the housing market.
"Oregon, and in particular Bend, has a significant housing shortage," McConnell said.
"We have been trying really hard to keep up with our income and growth, but ultimately we know that we need over 5,000 homes for people making about half of the area median income," she said. "Right now, you can still qualify for affordable housing and still make up to about $65,000."
In addition to helping make happen new projects like Canal Commons and one along NE Conners Avenue that will be developed into about 50 homes each, the city of Bend played a pivotal role in the expansion of the Bethlehem Inn homeless shelter.
Raising funds through an affordable housing fee that's the first in the state is one aspect the city has embraced, as well as exempting qualified affordable housing project from system development charges.
The city also played a role in development of new rental properties like Azumith 315, located in Northwest Crossing, providing nearly 100 homes to workforce families.
The city has even bigger plans for 2020, with projects to bring more than 400 homes to Bend in the pipeline. While some projects are already under construction, the city is still working on helping various entities pull together all of the needed funding.
"They (the city council) have taken a number of approaches and is really all in on housing production as a whole," McConnell said. "Some of those things are really looking at the code or some of the things that we've enacted or could enact to help reduce the cost of housing overall. So while we can't give money to every development that needs it, we can help them via some code tools and reducing some of the barriers that may exist."
One example: City councilors approved some streamlining of city code Wednesday night for smaller housing projects, to help avoid situations such as one that would have completed a "missing link" of Northeast Purcell Boulevard. Officials said the project didn't pencil out, due to the costs of doing engineering studies for failing intersections blocks away that are already being addressed in a citywide effort.
Planners still will require the smaller housing developers to report how many trips their projects would generate, for example. But once work to address a failing intersection is on the city's projects list, they won't, in one planner's words, "tell the applicant to hire an engineer to go tell us what we already know."
Learn more about the city's affordable housing efforts at https://www.bendoregon.gov/government/departments/economic-development/affordable-housing-program