When completed in another year, Cedar Grove Apartments will provide housing for 44 more low-income families in Beaverton.
Some of those apartments will go to families that have chronically gone without housing. All are planned for households with less than 60% of area median income.
"This project gives us an opportunity to address an important need in this community and to help families be stable and strong and resilient," said Rachael Duke, executive director of Community Partners for Affordable Housing. "That is good not only for the people who will be living here, but also for everybody living here."
Duke and others spoke Friday, Nov. 15, as ground was broken for the $15 million project at the southeast corner of Northwest Murray Boulevard and Cornell Road, at the gateway to the unincorporated community of Cedar Mill.
LMC Construction of Tualatin is the general contractor. Carleton Hart Architecture of Portland designed the project. BC Group Inc. of Portland is the construction manager.
Community Partners for Affordable Housing, the developer, is a nonprofit community development corporation founded in 1993 and based in Tigard. It has two completed projects in Beaverton — the 47-unit Barcelona Apartments, opened in late 2015, and the 48-unit Spencer House, an apartment complex it renovated in 2013. It also has five projects in Tigard and one in Southwest Portland.
As is typical of subsidized housing, financing of this project was complex.
Nearly $11 million came from the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services, the state's housing finance agency, largely through the federal tax credit for low-income housing and other funds. Washington County contributed $1.2 million from its HOME program, Beaverton $300,000 and Metro $100,000. The Network for Oregon Affordable Housing, Enterprise Community Investment and Heritage Bank also are participants.
"This is a good example of the success we can realize when private, public and nonprofit partners work together for a common much-needed purpose," Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle said.
"This is the way we have to do this all over our region."
Land prices have soared in Washington County, but this site was in county ownership — within Beaverton city limits — and the county started in 2015 to consider what to do with it after it was no longer needed for work on the intersection. Among the uses considered was a food-cart pod, similar to BG Food Cartel in downtown Beaverton, but that was shelved because it would have added to traffic circulation problems.
"Like many worthwhile endeavors, this housing development has taken years to come to the point where it is shovel-ready," Washington County Commissioner Pam Treece said.
A 2016 study that Portland State University conducted for the county concluded that Washington County was 14,000 units short of housing for low-income families, and some have concluded that total is much greater if people from outside the county who commute to jobs are counted.
"The work does not stop when the last brick is laid," Treece said. "It's waiting only for the first brick of the next project."
But Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen said the project is in the right place for its residents to use public transit. It qualified for $100,000 that Metro draws from its transit-oriented development program to encourage housing and stores on major transit routes.
"This housing and its residents will energize this area and expand opportunities for access to transit and urban amenities. I wish I could live this close to my grocery store," Dirksen said as the audience laughed. A Safeway is on the northwest corner of the intersection.
The project is also a first for the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, which will maintain a pocket park that will be developed within the Cedar Grove complex. Board President Felicita Monteblanco said it was an alternative to the $400,000 that Community Partners would have had to pay in systems development charges to the park district, which serves Beaverton and nearby unincorporated communities.
"This will be a public space for the entire community, and people need access to public spaces for health, wellness and building community," Monteblanco said. "It demonstrated our commitment to be a supportive partner and bring affordable housing to our area."
Officials acknowledged that the 44-unit project, even in combination with other developments elsewhere, will make only a small dent in Washington County's housing problems.
Val Valfre is chairman of the Oregon Housing Stability Council, an arm of the state housing finance agency, and sits on the Forest Grove City Council. He was Washington County's housing services director for nine years.
"It is sobering to remember that too many low-income households remain in danger today of being displaced and becoming homeless as median rents continue to far exceed median earnings, and affordable vacancies are less than 2% in Beaverton and Washington County," Valfre said. "We have a long way to go to respond to the affordable housing and homeless crisis affecting our county."
But Doyle saw hope in Metro's $653 million bond that voters in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties approved one year ago. Although no bond money is going into the Cedar Grove project, Beaverton is in line for an initial share of $3 million for the 54-unit Mary Ann Apartments already approved for Southwest First Street and Main Avenue. Its eventual total is $31 million.
Beaverton and Metro also plan to consider the feasibility of developing a 79-unit project on land Metro currently owns near the Elmonica/Southwest 170th light-rail station operated by TriMet.
"It's a starting point for us and we need to continue it," Doyle said. "Our seniors, families, those who have experienced homelessness — including students — and those with disabilities rely on our ability to create a variety of stable housing at all income levels."
NOTE: Corrects home base for LMC Construction.
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