Corvallis board backs S. Corvallis affordable housing project
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Corvallis board backs S. Corvallis affordable housing project

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Plans for affordable housing in South Corvallis are on the verge of a big leap forward.

A city housing committee has recommended that the Corvallis City Council approve $800,000 in federal funds and city tax money for a major project along Highway 99W.

DevNW, a mid-valley affordable housing development company, hopes to build 67 units of housing on two parcels. DevNW is the new nonprofit that was created when Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services merged with Neighborhood Economic Development Corp. of Eugene.

DevNw hopes to build 50 units on the New Holland farm implement site at 2625 Southeast Third Street. Another 17 units would be built nearby on the west side of Highway 99W.

The Corvallis Housing and Community Development Advisory Board recommended that $300,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant capital funds and $500,000 in city construction excise tax monies be awarded for the South Corvallis project.

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to hold a public hearing on the board’s recommendations at its April 20 session. Please note that all city meetings are in flux because of the coronavirus outbreak, although there are often stricter mandates to hold public meetings which require public hearings.

The CDBG funding has been a regular piece of the city’s affordable housing structure for decades, although the city has seen a decline in the amount of federal funds that are available. The excise tax is new. Authorized by state law, the tax was approved by the City Council on Nov. 7, 2016. It charges 1 percent of the improvement value on residential construction and 1.5 percent on commercial and industrial.

“We are really excited that our potential development in South Corvallis is recommended for funding,” said Brigetta Olson, chief operating officer for DevNW.

Olson added that the local money will help give DevNW some leverage as it applies for state money. Projects that already have strong local support often wind up being viewed more favorably by those dispensing state or federal grants. 

DevNw plans to seek funds via the state's low income tax credits as well as HOME funds and grants from the Oregon Housing and Community Services.

DevNW plans to use 4.67 acres at the rear of the New Holland property for the 50-unit housing project. The entire parcel comprises another 3.0 acres, which includes the New Holland buildings. DevNW will be demolishing houses at 2580 SE Third and 2610 SE Third, with the resulting combined 1-acre parcel planned for another 17 units.

Eleven of the New Holland units will be Community Land Trust home that require households to be earning 80% or less of the area median income (AMI). The remaining 39 New Holland units and those across Third Street will be multifamily projects that require renters to be at 50% or below AMI.

Olson said DevNW hopes to start construction in mid-2021, with the units available for occupancy by the summer or fall of 2022.

Although the properties are within the South Corvallis urban renewal district that Corvallis voters approved in March 2019, Olson said DevNW does not plan to seek urban renewal funds for the project.

It’s a matter of timing, Olson said.

“It take a couple of years for that source (urban renewal) to generate” enough funds to assist the project, she said.

Olson added that building the projects “will serve as an integral residential base to support the eventual development of a neighborhood town center on the abutting parcel.”

The town center is a key component of the urban renewal plan.

Kent Weiss, the city’s housing an neighborhood services manager, said the DevNw funding, if approved by the City Council, would mark the first use of excise tax money. The city, Weiss said, has been cautious about allocating the funds because the amount of revenue generated by the tax has varied from year to year.

In addition to the DevNW project, Community Development Block Grant capital funding was recommended to go to the Van Buren House ($60,000 for a new roof), the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis ($53,600 for safety and security upgrades) and the Center Against Rape & Domestic Violence (CARDV), which will receive $22,500 to rehabilitate two shelter facilities.

The housing board also had Community Development Block Grant funds to award to social service providers. The board recommended $82,000 in allocations. Here is the list:

• $15,000 to the South Corvallis Food Bank.

• $14,000 to Community Outreach Inc. for its integrated housing program.

• $12,500 to Jackson Street Youth Services for case work services.

• $11,500 to the Room at the Inn women’s shelter.

• $10,000 to Work Unlimited for downtown housing services.

• $10,000 for operations at the Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center.

The social service allocations also require City Council approval.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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