Beaverton officially broke ground on its affordable housing project for over 300 low-income residents June 29.

PMG PHOTO: SALLY SEGAR - Beaverton officially broke ground Wednesday, June 29, for its new South Cooper Mountain affordable housing project. Metro Councilor Gerritt Rosenthal (left), Unite Oregon's Washington County chapter director Ernesto Olivia, Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty and Wishcamper Development Partners co-managing partner Justin Metcalf spoke at the event.Beaverton hosted an event Wednesday, June 29, to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new 164-unit affordable housing development in the South Cooper Mountain area.

The project is expected to serve over 300 residents, including a dedicated building for seniors. All 164 units will be available to families and individuals at 30%, 60% and 70% of the area's median income.

The Beaverton City Council approved $10 million for the project in May, including $9 million from the Metro affordable housing bond.

Wishcamper's co-managing partner Justin Metcalf has been involved with the project for over three years.

Metcalf said Beaverton has been his favorite city to work in because of its dedication to building affordable housing, even with rising prices and other issues because of the pandemic.

"This project would not have closed were it not for (Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty) taking a vested interest in helping us source additional funding and (Oregon Housing and Community Services) stepping up … with additional funding," Metcalf said.

The project has also included a community outreach process led in part by Unite Oregon, Metcalf said, to ensure historically marginalized community members are prioritized in the new housing.PMG PHOTO: SALLY SEGAR - Beaverton hosted a groundbreaking event Wednesday, June 29, for its new, 164-unit affordable housing project in South Cooper Mountain. Justin Metcalf, co-managing partner at Wishcamper Development Partners, spoke at the event.

Ernesto Olivia, the organization's Washington County chapter director, said the program is intended to collect feedback from community members and connect them with current and future projects that are happening in Beaverton, specifically the South Cooper Mountain development.

Olivia also said he's excited about the future development's proximity to the nearby high school. The location — 17811 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road — is right next to Mountainside High School.

"This is going to be in a place where students can actually have a good education and live in a good neighborhood, instead of being traditionally segregated into low-income areas," Olivia said. "And we're thankful that we're able to help make that happen."

Not only will there be new housing adjacent to the school, but Wishcamper has a 42-acre master plan for a surrounding community with public spaces, trails, parks and a future commercial and municipal hub.

The city's community plan for South Cooper Mountain — which is just a draft so far — includes shops, natural areas and roughly 5,000 homes.

Beaty said she's most excited for new affordable housing projects because they can help restore people's dignity, giving them a place of their own to call home. Plus, the new building will have amenities like a fitness center, meeting rooms, event spaces, elevators, and even a dog grooming area, and the rooms will have air conditioning, she said.

"When you look from the school, you won't say, 'Oh, that's a building for low-income people,'" Beaty said. "We're gonna say, 'We're looking at amazingly designed buildings.'"

Beaverton's next major affordable housing project will be housing for seniors located in Central Beaverton, across from the Beaverton City Library.

"Putting seniors right in the middle of our community will show them what they mean to us, planning for people to age in place gracefully is one of the most important things we can do," Beaty said.PMG PHOTO: SALLY SEGAR - Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty speaks at an event Wednesday, June 29, celebrating the groundbreaking of the city's new affordable housing project in South Cooper Mountain.

The mayor said a lot of people ask her why she can't just make more affordable housing developments happen. This project is a good example of how much work it is to get so many groups working together and work with financial uncertainty, she pointed out.

"For a few days in a row, it was me and Justin fighting like heck to get money into our community for this project so we could be standing here today," Beaty said. "I just really want to emphasize every level of government has to work together to make these things happen."

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