Housing Works to launch new local project
Construction work at a Housing Works project at former Ochoco Elementary School has barely started, but the organization is already gearing up for another one.
The regional housing authority, which seeks to provide affordable housing for low-income residents, owns land in northeast Prineville and will soon build its first-ever mobile home park on the property.
"We have had the property out there off of Peters Road for 10 to 12 years," said Keith Wooden, the organization's real estate and facilities director. He went on to say that the parcel, located just southeast of where Peters Road dead-ends, is about 10 acres, although only about 4.4 acres of it is suitable for development.
The idea to pursue a mobile home park originated about a year ago when Wooden and Housing Works Executive Director Tom Kemper began working with a special cohort related to manufactured housing.
"We have been looking intently into that because that is the largest unsubsidized affordable housing in the country," Wooden said. "As construction prices keep going as high as they have been, we are looking for alternate ways to provide quality affordable housing developments."
Thanks to some newly available financing options for mobile home-type projects, Wooden said Housing Works was finally able to consider trying out the model. Organization leaders ultimately decided that the Peters Road property would make the most sense and consequently launched plans to develop a 30-unit park.
Wooden acknowledges that gaining approval for a mobile home park alongside an established residential neighborhood would require a change in how such developments are perceived.
"You obviously have to be very sensitive to the community around you, and we wanted to build something there that had the same look and feel of the existing residential neighborhood," he said. "The idea of a manufactured home is a flat roof, single-wide, tightly spaced and unattractive. That is clearly the stereotype we need to break."
Consequently, the homes Housing Works hope to provide will feature 4-12 pitch roofs, similar to homes in the neighboring subdivision. In addition, they will be spaced similarly to the nearby stick-built homes and feature carports with storage and front decks as well as 2x6 framed walls and higher-quality insulation. Each until will have two or three bedrooms.
"These will be really nice 900 to 1,200 square-foot units that I think people are really going to like," Wooden said. "They are constructed pretty dang well. … We are focused on making sure it looks very good. All of the stuff that we do has to fit in and look really good long term."
Assuming everything goes as planned securing the financing for the project, Wooden expects to begin prep work on the site around September and install homes and move people into them about a year from now. Like other Housing Works units, the homes will be available to people who make 60 percent of Crook County's area median income or less.
"We are excited about it," Wooden said.