Blackberry Hill Apartments
Toledo— It has been quite a year with Covid-19 and Disasters in Lincoln County. Despite this, Northwest Coastal Housing (NWCH) continues to acquire funding to build housing, needed now more than ever. On February 7, 2020, the Housing Stability Council approved funding award from Oregon Housing Community Services (OHCS) to NWCH for Veteran and Workforce housing development in Toledo, Oregon. The award did not pay for the entire build, however. Therefore, NWCH continued to apply for capital funds grants to help close the gap in funds. NWCH was awarded one such grant from Meyer Memorial Trust in August, 2020 in the amount of $250,000 towards the development. NWCH intends to use these funds to leverage additional resources to help meet the nearly overnight doubled increase in wood pricing.
NWCH is a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Lincoln County, a nonprofit affordable housing developer since 1991. Sheila Stiley, Executive Director for NWCH anticipates ground breaking on the 11 unit complex between late Spring and early Summer 2021 with an anticipated 8-9 month process.
The need for housing in Lincoln County is not news to anyone, but the approved award is news indeed. Affordable housing development funding historically has not been an easy task to obtain for a small CDC. Rural areas have a history of increased difficulty accessing funding compared to more metro areas. As a matter of fact, the last ground up development for NWCH was in 2006, and nearly a decade between builds for the local Housing Authority. It is averaged to be upwards of 13 years between affordable housing developments due to rural constraints balancing the proforma based on funding sources. Developing on the coast is challenging and more expensive due to material costs such as stainless steel and now, wood.
The state has been proactive in funding rural areas as one of their 6 Point Priorities in Oregon’s Statewide Housing Plan, “Breaking New Ground”. Based on this plan, a new source of funding was created for the 2019 Notice Of Funds Available for Small and Large Projects with Additional Veteran Subsidy. The main funding source includes GAP, General Account Program dollars originating almost entirely from income taxes paid by individual Oregonians and Oregon businesses. NWCH was awarded $1,627,500 in GAP funds, outsourced $325,000 from the Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit (OAHTC) loan program, and was pledged $25,000 in committed funds from the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, spearheaded by Commissioner Claire E. Hall who stated “Public support for housing of all types is high, but I particularly hear from people who feel it’s a shame that so many veterans lack decent, affordable housing. I’m proud the county is able to join NW Coastal Housing and other partners to make this project a reality”. Other funding sources include $1000 from the John Reed Veteran Foundation. Funding was also awarded toward costs of the Feasibility Study and successful OHCS NOFA Award by Meyer Memorial Trust and the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians STCCF.
NWCH will apply for the Central Lincoln PUD rebate program thus providing cost savings of approximately $2500 and is responsible for $300,000 owner contribution plus $33,007 in deferred developer fees. That amount has now increased, however, as mentioned earlier. NWCH will be working with the City of Toledo to offset some of the infrastructure costs, seek funding from foundations, and fundraise to assist with the owner committed funds. “Affordable housing development takes work and money is not readily accessible”, says Executive Director, Sheila Stiley. “We have to work very hard to obtain the levels of funding required in addition to all of the rules and mandates we must follow. This is not standard development. It is development with a twist or two which can be challenging for others to understand. But we need the housing and we have great partnerships for this project and others moving forward” stated Stiley. “The City of Toledo has been supportive and appreciative of new development. They advocated strongly for the project with hopes of future development opportunities.”
Blackberry Hill Apartments will have 8 veteran preference units consisting of a mix of income levels to qualify ranging from 30% Area Median Income (AMI) to 60% AMI. NWCH will partner with both the Community Services Consortium (CSC) and the Lincoln County Veterans Services Office (VSO) who will be the referring agencies for the project. The remaining three units will be workforce units for individuals making <80% AMI; no referral necessary. Designed by Capri Architecture, the project will be built by NW Legacy Contractors, LLC and Construction Management contracted with the Housing Development Center.
Additionally, this complex, as most all of NWCH’s builds, will include Resident Services Coordination working both with CSC, Lincoln County VSO and NWCH with overlapping programs to enhance living and reduce barriers that would otherwise lead to homelessness
“We are excited to see the construction of this beautifully designed and well-planned development become a reality. CSC is looking forward to our partnership with NWCH” stated Pegge McGuire, Acting Director of Community Services Consortium. CSC operates the Supportive Services for Veteran Families and maintains the Veteran Bi-Name List Registry in 2018-2019 which helps minimize the gap and identify and assist men and women who served in the armed forces.
The CSC also partners with the Lincoln County VSO to provide overlapping services to veterans. One of those services includes locating housing for our community veterans however, with the lack of supply of adequate housing stock, many veterans are left displaced or unhoused. “It is no secret that housing on the Oregon Coast is in low supply. Those individuals and families with steady income can find it difficult to acquire stable housing in our community so it is not difficult to imagine that veterans, particularly those with disabilities and limited income, face an increased number of barriers when attempting to find permanent residences in this area,” states Devin Whitaker, Veteran Services Officer of the Lincoln County VSO. “Additionally, those veterans who do qualify for housing assistance more-often-than-not find better housing opportunities in other communities due to the lack of affordable housing stock in the area.”
“The awarded Blackberry Hill Apartment Complex offers veterans in our area an opportunity to access stable and affordable housing without relocating to another area. Our office has partnered with Northwest Coastal Housing in support of this effort and created strategies to ensure that future residents of this facility not only get housed but also have better access to Service Officers who can assist them in exploring other potential benefits through the VA,” explained Whitaker. “Veterans in Lincoln County need housing. It is exciting to know that this project will serve those who have served us with better access to housing stability”.