Affordable Housing Update
The City of Hood River continues to make progress on housing availability and affordability projects. In recent months, City Council adopted two policy tools identified in the recently approved Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS). Meanwhile, the selected developer for the City’s 780 Rand Road housing project requested an extension of its purchase option although it was not selected to receive State Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) program funding this year.
The first policy tool recommended by the AHS and approved by City Council is intended to limit the conversion of multi-family residential units in commercial areas into Short-Term Rentals (STRs) by limiting one STR license per owner. This policy only applies to future STR licenses – existing licenses in commercial zones are not affected.
The second tool establishes an affordable housing tax exemption program for qualifying non-profit housing providers. This tool provides financial incentives to build and maintain housing more affordable to limited income households. For more information on City efforts to encourage more affordable housing, visit this page cityofhoodriver.gov/housing-projects. For more information about these new policies, contact Dustin Nilsen, the City’s director of planning and zoning (D.Nilsen@cityofhoodriver.gov).
Earlier this year the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS) announced projects that would be funded from the state’s Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) program. Hood River’s 780 Rand development was not awarded funds from this program cycle. In response to the news, developer Community Development Partners (CDP) in partnership with the Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation (CCHC) requested a one-year extension of their purchase option agreement for the development site. They also announced their plan to submit an application for LIFT funding in 2023.
This news from OHCS was not completely unexpected. CDP/CCHC provided an update to the City Council in June explaining steps taken to obtain funding as well as anticipated challenges. In 2022 there was $30,350,000 in LIFT funding in the category available to the 780 Rand Road project (LIFT Rural paired with 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits). Approximately $110 million was requested by developers of seven projects throughout Oregon. It was the most competitive application process for LIFT in the program’s history.
If LIFT funding is secured in 2023, a formal development agreement will be prepared and CDP/CCHC will apply for land use permits. Housing could be ready as early as 2026. Despite the funding setback, community engagement efforts have begun to move the development proposal into greater design detail. CDP/CCHC hired the Center for Public Interest Design (CPID) to facilitate outreach planning and events.