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The city received the Central Oregon Association of Realtors Housing Champion Award for promoting housing.

JENNIFFER GRANT/MADRAS PIONEER - Work continues in Strawberry Heights. The city of Madras received an award from area real estate agents for its work promoting housing development.The city of Madras was scheduled to receive an award at the Central Oregon Association of Realtors' EnCOAR awards last week.

The ceremony will be rescheduled, but the city was notified last month that it was selected as a 2020 Housing Champion Award recipient.

"The Housing Champion Award is presented by COAR to public servants, municipalities and agencies that support housing, homeownership and/or the protection of private property rights through policymaking, collaboration and other initiatives," said Tyler Neese, the association's government affairs director, in a letter to the city.

JENNIFFER GRANT/MADRAS PIONEER - Housing Works is building low-income apartments with 23 units on Jefferson Street. Work is continuing, despite distancing requirements."In evaluating possible recipients for this year's award," Neese continued, "COAR's Government Affairs Committee felt strongly that the city's efforts to address the housing shortage in Madras through an innovative HURD program and SDC reductions embody the spirit of the award and what it means to be a housing champion."

The HURD program he was referring to is the Housing Urban Renewal District the City Council passed in the fall. It allows the city to freeze taxes across taxing districts and use anticipated revenues to give incentives to builders.

JENNIFFER GRANT/MADRAS PIONEER - Site preparation is ongoing at the Willow Brook subdivision on the site of the former Nine Peaks Golf Course.The program has already attracted some builders, and work is underway on the first phase of the Willow Brook subdivision, which will add 71 houses near the golf course. Its developer, Chet Antonsen, expects to start work on another subdivision 149-home subdivision in the future.

"A huge part of it is the urban renewal district and the city's enthusiastic approach to getting housing going," Antonsen said in December.

"When faced with significant housing challenges, the city of Madras took the lead in aggressively working toward solutions," Neese said in an email interview. "The approach was very collaborative — staff worked closely with builders, developers, Realtors and others in the housing community to develop incentives and programs that are both practical and impactful in spurring development and providing much-needed housing at all levels. I think these efforts have already begun to bear fruit as projects are taking shape that otherwise wouldn't have been possible."

Madras was one of three recipients of the Housing Champion Award this year. The others were Jim Long, former affordable housing manager with the cities of Bend and Redmond, and Bend City Councilor Bruce Abernethy.


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