Newport — December 20, 2018 — Northwest Coastal Housing (NWCH), formerly known as the Lincoln County Community Development Corporation (LCDC) has been serving Lincoln County families for nearly 25 years. Receiving its state tax exemption in 1994, NWCH developed an 80 unit affordable housing complex, The Ridge Apartments in Lincoln City in 1996. In 2002, NWCH developed a 9 unit complex for those suffering from mental illness with a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse in Newport called Yaquina Breeze Apartments. Following in 2005 was the development of Alder Hill; a triplex in Toledo for Shangri-La, housing individuals with developmental disabilities.
“Our properties include Resident Services helping residents navigate barriers to more enhanced living opportunities. We house annually 3-5 homeless families with children, 2-5 women of domestic violence, seniors, veterans, and more“, says Executive Director Sheila Stiley. “In 2017 alone six families, one of which was Hispanic, were able to purchase their first homes after living at our property. That is community investment.”
NWCH endeavors to develop more multifamily housing in Lincoln County. However, this is not always a simple task for rural nonprofit developers like NWCH. The sources of funding are limited and can take two years or more to secure. The staple funding source is derived from State funds. Post award, other funds can then be obtained as collaborative financing to offset soft costs such as a geological report, wetlands survey, architectural designs, etc. That does not include the pre-application costs. For rural coastal Oregon, obtaining funding is not an easy feat. On the contrary, it is an uphill struggle.
Rural communities are challenging with unique housing and service needs. Over the last decade, very little multifamily housing has been built in rural areas. Reasons are lack of suitable developable land; high labor costs to bring contractors to rural locations; higher construction costs due to higher grade materials necessary for the region; affordable housing restricted rents and home pricing are too low to balance the cost of new construction; and a lack of small project financing available to rural nonprofit developers.
Recently, Oregon Housing Community Services (OHCS) released its Statewide Housing Plan draft (the first we have seen in several years), providing $403 million toward six priorities, one being rural community’s ability to develop housing and leverage funding. NWCH has not been alone in the pursuit of affordable multifamily housing development and can personally attest to those challenges.
- 2007-2009-Toledo: Development of a 12 unit complex was thwarted due to a $1 million increased infrastructure cost from fire engine turn radius.
- 2012-Lincoln City: State application for tax credit syndication for the Ridge Apartments for refinance and envelope construction rehab was denied.
- 2012-Newport: Samaritan Hospital donated 3 apartment buildings to move onto land across the street from their location. However, due to dilapidation of the buildings and SDC fees, the project was no longer feasible.
- 2012-Lincoln City: Acquisition of a senior housing complex failed when it was discovered the “owner” was unauthorized to sell the property.
- 2013-Lincoln City: State application for tax credit syndication for refinance and rehab of The Ridge was once again not selected for funding.
- 2016-Lincoln City: After 15 months, a HUD Loan was approved for the Ridge Apartments for refinance and rehab.
- 2018-Lincoln City: $2.3 million envelope rehab of The Ridge Apartments complete.
Though the exterior envelope rehab is complete, the HUD Loan changed the funding stream to the agency, impacting its general operations. Owner distributions changed from monthly or quarterly to annual based on surplus cash available in the annual audit. The entity has not received an owner distribution since November 2016. Though it has been detrimental to the organization for the first couple of years, the action was necessary for not only the 80 families living on the property, but for evidence to the State of NWCH’s sustainability and stewardship of its properties.
“The road to funding is complicated. It is also frustrating; at times conflicting. In order for us to obtain funding for new development, we were required to make necessary repairs to our 80 unit property, yet we were unable to secure funding after multiple attempts” stated Stiley. “As previously stated, it can be frustrating working to be compliant yet not have the resources available to meet that requirement. If it were not for granting agencies, funders, and down right persistence mixed with stubborn tenacity, we would not be in the position to continue our forward progression towards development”.
Thanks to funds obtained from Meyer Memorial Trust, OHCS Capacity Building Grant, and Lincoln County Economic Development Funds, NWCH was able to receive an Assessment provided by NeighborWorks America, a Strategic Plan, and feasibility studies in preparation for a State Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) Application. These studies are critical elements for the State competitive NOFA application process and helped determine which of the sites was best suited for development. They also support NWCH’s longevity, need and commitment to Lincoln County. “We have done the work, we have primed the State. Now is the time” believes Stiley.
NWCH will begin the next phase by submitting a 2019 NOFA Application for small rural project development in Lincoln County. Bridge funding will be necessary for the next few months as NOFA funds are for the brick and mortar with associating costs only. Additional revenue is needed to pay for operations during the NOFA process and for the associated soft costs both pre NOFA and post award. Individuals interested in donating may do so at www.nwcoastalhousing.org, through Facebook (Northwest Coastal Housing), or by mail to Northwest Coastal Housing, PO Box 1457, Newport, OR 97365.