East Multnomah County is on track to gain more than 100 units of affordable housing, thanks to a new agreement between the County and Home Forward, the region’s public housing authority.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, the Board of County Commissioners approved the transfer of 3.54 acres of vacant land in Troutdale to Home Forward for affordable housing. It will be Home Forward’s first project in Troutdale — and it will draw from funding approved through Metro’s 2018 regional affordable-housing construction measure.
The County originally purchased the land, at the north end of Northeast 257th Drive, in 2017 for $1.25 million as a potential site for a new Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office headquarters. But since then, the property no longer reflects the Sheriff’s Office’s priorities and better aligns with the County’s goal to expand affordable housing.
“Not only are we building affordable housing for people who desperately need it, but we are also supporting revitalization,” said Commissioner Stegmann. “The fact that we are making sure people have access to all the things we want in a community is really heartwarming and also incredible.”
Under its current plan, the development will serve single households and families with more than 100 units. Amenities could include a community space, a computer lab and a play area for children.
“Affordable housing is needed in Troutdale,” Michael Buonocore, the executive director for Home Forward, said. “We are thrilled about the possibility of this location.”
The land, located in Troutdale’s Central Business District, is also close to jobs, schools, services, shopping and public transportation, Buonocore said. Troutdale also has a need for affordable housing based on the city of Troutdale’s Housing Needs Analysis — 58 percent of Troutdale renters are cost-burdened, and Troutdale needs at least 273 new units of affordable housing.
On Nov. 6, 2018, voters approved a $652.8 million bond measure directing Metro to fund affordable housing throughout the region. Under the measure, Metro will partner with Home Forward, in its role as the public housing authority, along with local jurisdictions, to develop affordable housing.
In February 2019, Multnomah County and Troutdale explored new opportunities for housing and homelessness in Troutdale. Then-Troutdale Councillor Zach Hudson and Chair Deborah Kafoury met and expressed support for using the site for affordable housing.
“Here at Multnomah County, we will always advocate and fight for more affordable housing,” Chair Kafoury said. “As the stars were aligning, I asked my staff to approach Home Forward with the concept. Before us represents the culmination of the work to make that concept a reality.”
Home Forward has spent the last year reviewing the site in collaboration with Troutdale. Once the formal transfer of ownership begins, Home Forward is expected to begin due diligence and design phases. Home Forward believes it can start construction within 18 months of possession, with units occupied 12 months later.
“I just love seeing these kinds of partnerships where we can use land that we have that isn’t being used for its fullest potential and finding ways to partner with organizations to make it fill needs that are so critical like affordable housing,” Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson said.