Rural Oregon’s Housing Supply Is Increased In The Midst Of The Pandemic

Rural Oregon’s Housing Supply Is Increased: With lofty goals outlined in our five-year Statewide Housing Plan, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) set out to increase the supply of high-quality housing in communities all across Oregon more than three years ago.

It was the first time the state developed a comprehensive strategy for solving the housing deficit on a state-wide level. Housing in rural Oregon would be increased by 75% as part of the plan. To reach this goal, OHCS had to prioritize rural leadership and voices.

The target of 2,500 dwellings was surpassed by OHCS more than a year earlier. 3,612 affordable housing units were built in rural locations by rural housing leaders and OHCS. This represents a 148% increase over the 1,454 dwellings sponsored over the previous five years. This is an example of rural communities’ inventiveness and imagination in action.

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As a result, 3,612 families and individuals will receive the keys to comfortable, reliable, and reasonably priced homes. In rural areas, a very large percentage of people pay more than 30% of their income in rent. The housing deficit was made worse by the epidemic in some of these regions where new housing construction has not occurred in years.

Building new partnerships and enhancing existing ones was essential to increasing the housing supply in a situation when housing options are not just limited but also dwindling. Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Legislature, neighborhood partners, Tribes, federal, state, and local agencies, developers, local businesses, and communities all put their effort and passion into building each new house.

These are some steps done to guarantee that everyone in our rural areas has access to high-quality, reasonably priced homes.

  • To encourage the construction of new homes in small communities, OHCS gave building relationships with developers statewide top priority. This has been accomplished by “scattered site” development in addition to putting aside funds particularly to support initiatives in rural areas. In a scattered site development, the same developer builds affordable housing developments in both urban and rural areas while submitting a single funding request.
  • Communities expressed the need for long-term supportive housing during outreach events (PSH). People who are facing chronic homelessness can access additional support services through this kind of inexpensive housing, which will help them maintain stable housing. 1,255 new permanent supportive houses have been funded by OHCS, exceeding the target of 1,000 dwellings.

Intentionally chosen to participate in the 2022 Oregon Supportive Housing Institute are two projects from rural Clatsop County. In Astoria, the PSH projects will provide housing and services for elders as well as people who suffer from severe, persistent mental illness and substance use disorders.

Rural Oregon's Housing Supply Is Increased
Rural Oregon’s Housing Supply Is Increased

The American Rescue Plan’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program resources to build houses for persons who are suffering from homelessness are among the programs that OHCS intends to establish in the future with a rural focus.

OHCS has started the rule-changing procedure to ensure that tribes in Oregon and local governmental organizations in rural areas can apply for and receive General Housing Account Program (GHAP) Capacity Building funding in order to better assist rural capacity building.

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Due to severe staffing losses incurred by partner groups and ensuing training and technical assistance requirements, OHCS increased and extended the 2021 NW Rural Preservation Academy contract with Enterprise Community Partners.

For upcoming capacity building grants and activities under the GHAP Capacity Building program, OHCS has given priority to addressing the needs of rural communities and rural affordable rental housing developers and operators.

It is critical to maintain the pace and keep putting out creative ideas in order to construct high-quality housing in every region of our state. To further address the pressing demand for housing for the people of rural Oregon, the objectives of the upcoming Statewide Housing Plan will need us to delve deeper into capacity building, collaborations, and strategic resource investment.

Claire Hall is the chair of the Oregon and Oregon Housing Stability Council, and Andrea Bell is the director of Oregon Housing and Community Services.

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