SALEM — Government agencies across Oregon will go on a run of remodeling public buildings and erecting new ones under legislation recently approved.
House Bill 5006 is a checklist of big-ticket construction projects from Tillamook to Condon costing a total $528 million. The money comes from lottery and other bonds and $33.7 million from the federal government. That money will go to fund projects on National Guard bases and aviation facilities.
About $200 million will go to tackling the state's housing crisis. About 14,000 Oregonians are homeless, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. And as of 2016, about 298,000 Oregon renters were "cost burdened," or paying more than 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy.
Lawmakers approved $150 million in bonds to build about 2,100 units of affordable housing for low-income Oregonians through the Local Innovation Fast Track, or LIFT, program. Specific projects haven't been chosen yet, but the program is designed to prioritize rural communities with fewer than 25,000 people and communities of color.
The Legislature also approved another $50 million for about 500 units to house low-income people who have disabilities or are chronically homeless. Those units will be in the form of permanent supportive housing, which pairs housing with support services such as health care.
The bill lays out about $65 million to pay for maintenance, code compliance, and to enhance safety and accessibility at public university buildings, as well as a $12.7 million project to build a rapid toolmaking center on the site of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose.
Lawmakers are distributing about $24 million for projects at community colleges. Some of that money is allocated for community colleges in rural areas to develop local workforces in health care, agriculture and other industries.
At Klamath Community College, for example, the bill approved $3.9 million for that college to build an apprenticeship and industrial trades center that will put its trade programs in one place. The center will have space to train electricians and plumbers, as well as students studying fire sciences and emergency medical operations.
And Treasure Valley Community College will get $4.9 million to build a facility to train nurses and other health care workers.
The state Department of Administrative Services had $24 million carved out in HB 5006 to buy a former Microsoft building in Wilsonville. It's something the state has had its eye on, DAS spokeswoman Liz Craig said.
The building comes with office, warehouse and laboratory space.
Right now, a specific purpose isn't outlined. "We believe the building could solve a number of space needs for various agencies, including lab space and secure storage, in a central location," Craig said.
DAS expects to decide whether to buy the building by the end of the year.
While some dollars go to fund new projects, much of the funding will improve existing buildings. The Oregon Youth Authority received $6.4 million to fund four projects, the bulk going to upgrading medical and dental clinics at the Tillamook Youth Correctional Facility, MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility and Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility.
Right now, the Oak Creek and Tillamook facilities don't have space for a dentist to come in, so youth have to be taken off campus for dental work. An expansion of the facilities will allow dentists to come on-site, agency spokeswoman Sarah Evans said.
The expansion of the medical clinics at Oak Creek and Tillamook will provide quicker access to services. At Oak Creek, the space is so tight that it limits how often doctors can come visit.
"Both are just so small," Evans said. "If you look at an exam room, you don't even have room to fit a doctor, nurse and a youth all in the room at the same time."
MacLaren will get $1.8 million to upgrade its infirmary, clinic and pharmacy. Evans said these services were in an old building and the new one will be better suited to dealing with sick people. "If you walk into a place that's cold, old and run-down looking, it's not going to make you feel better," she said.
Several Salem buildings are getting upgrades through the Oregon Military Department. Almost $10 million is dedicated to improving Army Aviation Support facilities in Salem and Pendleton. The buildings will be seismically retrofitted and receive backup generators.The Oregon Supreme Court building will get a seismic upgrade, along with other renovations and energy-efficiency upgrades, using $28 million in state funds.
The Oregon Department of Corrections got more than $47 million to upgrade radios, cameras and building maintenance. The department is also going to use $1.6 million to upgrade the software it uses to track inmates. The software in use today was developed in the 1980s, according to testimony submitted to the Legislature, and is the black-screen-green-font sort of software now mostly seen in decades-old movies.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.