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Various groups unite to reopen, expand low-income services in urban areas of county

As two local service providers reopen to help locals who are struggling with homelessness, county officials plan to expand the capacity for low-income housing in Milwaukie and Clackamas.

Last summer, a fire forced the closure of the Clackamas Service Center, and the the Annie Ross House emergency family shelter also was closed, factors which helped spur Clackamas County to declare an emergency for addressing the local homelessness crisis. Now the service center and shelter are getting back on their feet.

Clackamas Service Center, 8800 S.E. 80th Ave., will host a grand reopening celebration 1 to 3 p.m. Monday, July 23. Northwest Housing Alternative will celebrate the beginning of construction for the Annie Ross House on Wednesday, July 11, at 2316 S.E. Willard St., Milwaukie.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in Clackamas County, renters need to earn $21.26 to afford the rent for an average two-bedroom apartment while minimum wage is $12. During the 2017 point-in-time count, 2,293 people were homeless in Clackamas County — a 4 percent increase from 2015. Of those, 1,384 were in families with children.

"Rents have increased by 60 percent in the last six years and incomes have only gone up about 20 percent in that same time," said Martha McLennan, NHA's executive director. "Housing is clearly unaffordable in our region right now."

NHA's development will create 28 units of permanent housing for these vulnerable families and individuals, expanded capacity for the Annie Ross House, and an operations center to guide services for all of NHA's clients and keep them stable in their homes.

Funding for the project came from a variety of partners, including Wells Fargo, Heritage Bank, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Clackamas County and the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing.

Clackamas County hosted an 80th-anniversary celebration for its Housing Authority, along with a kickoff for its Hillside Master Plan on June 27 at Hillside Manor in Milwaukie.

Master planning will set the future vision for the revitalization of the 16-acre Hillside Public Housing Community. County officials say they're aiming to construct 300-400 new affordable housing units, a community gathering space, enhanced outdoor recreation areas, and other amenities that will serve both residents and neighbors in the Ardenwald area.

On June 13, Clackamas County officials and partners held a ceremonial groundbreaking event for a new affordable housing project.

Rosewood Terrace, in unincorporated urban Clackamas, will feature 112 one-bedroom homes, 92 two-bedroom homes, and eight three-bedroom homes for residents at or below 60 percent of the area median income. The project will redevelop the current structures with approximately $67.1 million of investment, consisting of the rental apartments which will be made up of six residential structures, including one which will be mixed-use. The mixed-use structure will house various management/leasing offices, amenities for tenants and maintenance work spaces.

Formed on May 4, 1938, the Housing Authority of Clackamas County was the first housing authority created in Oregon. County officials in the 1930s saw they had many of the same issues we're facing today: There was simply not enough safe rental housing to meet the needs of low-income Oregonians to work, go to school, care for children or age in place with dignity.