Revenue from a 2018 bond measure is also behind affordable units in Hillsboro and Cornelius.

COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY - From left to right: Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, Val Valfre, Housing Authority of Washington County executive director Komi Kalevor, Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax, and Brian Carleton of Carleton Hart Architecture at the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning.Officials broke ground on a new affordable housing complex in Forest Grove Tuesday, Sept. 7.

The complex dubbed The Valfre at Avenida 26 is tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2022, and 30 of 36 units are two and three-bedroom apartments for families.

"Growing up in this community, I've seen how the lack of affordable housing can impact families. I am thrilled that we're seeing some momentum build locally around much-needed affordable units as our region grows," Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González said.

The project, named after Adolph "Val" Valfre, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former Forest Grove city councilor and executive director of the Housing Authority of Washington County, is made possible by a $653 million affordable housing bond approved by Metro voters in November 2018.

Komi Kalevor, who now holds Valfre's former position as head of the Housing Authority of Washington County, said $3.7 million of the $13.5 million development cost is being covered by the bond.

"The bond is the game-changer. Affordable housing is not easy to finance. The market rate charges the highest rent possible and leverages that to get a bank loan plus private equity investment," Kalevor said. "Affordable housing rents are not enough to incentivize development, but here, the Metro bond fills the void, and housing that would get left on the shelf is built."

In addition to the bond, the project is funded by a $4.1 million tax credit, a $500,000 grant from Washington County and a $4.6 million bank loan.

Similar bond revenue is funding a 113-unit affordable housing complex in neighboring Cornelius, as well as a 150-unit affordable housing complex in Hillsboro, which are both expected to break ground early next year.

"The development is a step in the right direction," said Erica Calderon, director of housing for Bienestar, a nonprofit managing tenant outreach and leasing for all three projects. "COVID has highlighted the need for affordable housing. As we've been proactive about leasing and finding tenants, we are meeting more and more families who are no longer able to afford market rates."

Calderon added, "We're going to be able to catch some families and individuals who are falling into the same cycle of struggle and homelessness created by the fact that there is not enough affordable housing."

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