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A proposed affordable housing development in Cornelius would bring 113 regulated units to the city.

COURTESY RENDERING - A draft building design for a proposed affordable housing development in Cornelius. REACH Community Development and Bienestar have partnered on the project.Cornelius will soon see its regulated affordable housing stock double with the addition of a recently announced housing development.

The development, called Plaza Los Amigos, will have 113 affordable apartments, including 16 units that will be reserved for formerly unhoused individuals. It also will provide specialized resident services.

Plaza Los Amigos will be located on the western edge of a portion of a long-vacant property at North Davis Street and 19th Avenue near Fred Meyer.

The development marks a new collaboration between two local affordable housing organizations seeking to bring culturally specific affordable housing to the most diverse city in Washington County. More than half of Cornelius residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.

The city is rapidly growing, as new, mostly middle-income houses continue to be built in several developments. Cornelius currently has 96 regulated affordable housing units, said Ryan Wells, community development director for the city.

REACH Community Development and Bienestar have secured nearly $13 million in funding for the development from Washington County's Metro affordable housing bond funds.

REACH provides supportive services to residents and develops and manages more than 2,400 affordable housing units throughout the region. Bienestar manages affordable housing properties throughout Washington County, providing culturally specific, bilingual services primarily for Latino, farmworker, and immigrant households.

"Individually, we would not be able to do this project, but together we can make new communities like this a reality," said REACH housing development director Alma Flores in a statement announcing the development. "We hope this will be the first of many collaborations as we explore further development opportunities."

Before moving forward with its developments, Bienestar creates a project advisory committee and consults with local leaders, groups and potential residents to determine how the development can best fit their housing needs, said Erica Calderón, director of housing for Bienestar.

"Right now racial equity is at the forefront of a lot of conversations, especially with development," Calderón said. "We really are part of the Latinx community, we bring them into conversations."

REACH is in the process of finalizing the purchase of the property where the development will be located, Wells said. The development's partners haven't yet submitted site designs for it, and Bienestar plans to consult with the community before designs are created, Calderón said.

The project advisory committee will influence landscaping, the layout, how community spaces will be used and other factors. Bienestar also will do outreach to potential residents to receive input on the layouts of the apartments.

Calderón said a community need that will be met by this development is that there aren't many apartment units in the area intended to house larger families.

Wells said while the city will not have a direct investment in the development, officials are committed to supporting affordable housing by helping to make approval processes efficient and providing opportunities for development charges to be deferred.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the proportion of Cornelius residents who are Hispanic or Latino. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates they make up 51.5% of the city's population. The story has been corrected.

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