Acting as the Clackamas County Housing Authority Board, county commissioners Thursday, July 16, decided to hold off on approving three upcoming housing projects sponsored by Metro bond dollars to give staff time to sort out a few lingering questions around income diversity within the proposed developments.
During a presentation by Clackamas County housing authority staff members in a board meeting Tuesday, July 14, commissioner Sonya Fischer raised several concerns. Specifically, she sought to clarify whether the proposed projects would meet certain criteria that proponents of the Metro housing bond promised voters in the campaign to pass the bond in November 2018.
According to Fischer, the concern is that the Metro dollars are supposed to be used to build housing developments that do not create silos of income inequality and bring in renters of all different levels of income.
The recommended projects total 413 new units, or 51% of the county's goal of 812 units it would like to see funded by the Metro housing bond. They include 292 units that are two-bedrooms or larger (72% of the target goal of 406 units) and 153 units reserved for households with incomes 30% average median income and below (47% of the target goal of 333 units).
Clackamas County received notice from Metro in January that 35% ($40.6 million) of the county's total allocation of $116 million is ready for project proposals from both for-profit and nonprofit developers within the Metro boundary. In April, the county received five applications for projects which were vetted by HACC staff, with three projects being approved for county commissioners to consider.
The three projects include Fuller Station, the Maple Apartments, and Good Shepherd Village.
Fuller Station, 9608 S.E. Fuller Road near the Clackamas Town Center, is a 100-unit project proposed by Geller, Silvis and Associates in the unincorporated area of urban Clackamas. The project will cost approximately $10 million and fulfill 8% of the county's housing bond goal.
The Maple Apartments will be located in Oregon City, tucked off of Highway 213 and Beavercreek Road near the Walnut Grove neighborhood. It is a 171-unit project proposed by Community Development Partners & Hacienda Community Development Corp. It is estimated to cost $16 million and will fulfill 14% of the county's housing goal.
The final project in this first round of Metro bond projects is Good Shepherd Village at 12596 S.E. 162nd Ave., Happy Valley. The 142-unit project was proposed by Caritas Housing Corp. & Catholic Charities. It will cost an estimated $18 million and will fulfill 16% of the county's goal.
A separate redevelopment project of a property at 18000 Webster Road in Gladstone will cost $6.8 million. That will bring the county's total use of Metro bond dollars to $51 million with $65 million remaining for second-round projects and the redevelopment of HACC's Hillside Manor and Park property located near 32nd Avenue and Harrison Street in Milwaukie.
"I'm not gonna say that I don't support it because I haven't made a decision, and I'm still gathering information," Fischer said. "But I can tell you that when the plan that we approved had certain goals, and one of them was to create inclusive, mixed neighborhoods."
According to Fischer, one of the Metro housing bond goals was to include higher-income households to cross-subsidize lower-income households. She believes these proposals aren't meeting that goal. She said she would like to see at least one of the proposed projects have units with rent levels of at least 80% of the average median income to create that mixture of income levels.
"There's a lot of emphasis on creating public-private partnerships, of doing things differently, not creating low-income projects that are stigmatized in our society," Fischer said. "I have been looking through these proposals, and there are so many great qualities. I'm wanting to look at that piece at this time, and shore that up with what our vision was and do that cost-benefit analysis over this next week."
Commissioners Paul Savas agreed, stating that he doesn't want these projects to concentrate the low-income housing aspect in any one development. He would rather see the units be spread evenly throughout the proposed projects with a mix of income levels.
Commissioner Martha Schrader also agreed, saying she was willing to put the decision off for a week to answer lingering questions and ensure that the taxpayers' dollars are being used in the best manner possible.
Commissioner Ken Humberston aligned with his colleagues saying that "given the amount of money that's involved in this and the complicated nature of the financing, I'm OK with holding it at this point in time, and giving our two other members an opportunity to make themselves more comfortable with what's been presented."
Commissioners also voted to hold off approving an omnibus resolution for the Webster Road redevelopment project. They will circle back around next week to re-discuss along with the three new project proposals.
Also on Thursday:
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