On October 11, Community Action Team, Inc. (CAT) in St. Helens hosted a gathering of local and state officials, planners, project funders, building professionals, and interested citizens to celebrate the ground breaking of the new 18th Street Development, a 16-unit multifamily affordable housing complex.
This long-awaited and now imminent housing solution will take shape on a small tract of land along 18th Street between Columbia Blvd. and St. Helens Street in St. Helens.
Margaret Salazar, Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Senator Betsy Johnson; Joanne Sheehy, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Dan Brown, Executive Director, Community Action Team, Inc.; Nina Reed, President, Self-Help, Inc.
Owned and donated to the project by Columbia County Self-Help, Inc., the property is set to emerge as the address of sixteen 400-square-foot units, each tagged at a little over $100,000 for a total project cost of $1.633 million.
Self-Help, Inc. President, Nina Reed says that, while small in size, this number of available units will chip away at a big problem in Columbia County.
CAT Executive Director Dan Brown’s pointed remarks from the podium summed up the area’s present condition. “A recently completed housing study identified only 1,200 units of low-income affordable housing in Columbia County. The same study documented the current demand for an additional 1,900. That’s 1,900 more units required TODAY just to respond to the immediate needs of our most vulnerable population. That’s 160% more affordable units than are available right now in Columbia County.”
In 2016, former CAT director, Jim Tierney, submitted the funding application for 18th Street Development to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). Once on the drawing board, the collaborative efforts of key local and state individuals and entities advanced the project through the planning stages to its now near launch. A special thanks goes to HomeFirst Development (Fairview, OR), whose vision is to help mission-driven organizations build quality, affordable housing.
Rich & Ellen Bailey, Rich Bailey Construction; Robert Justus, Principal, HomeFirst Development; Ben Pray, Principal, HomeFirst Development; Tony Jones, Project Manager, HomeFirst Development; & Doug Circosta, Architect, HomeFirst Development.
The first deposit in CAT’s 18th Street Development kitty came from Oregon Housing and Community Services’ LIFT fund (Local Innovation and Fast Track) in the amount of $608,000. A year later, Wauna Credit Union came through with a lending finance package that added $675,000 to the purse. Unfortunately, construction costs rose by $350,000 during that waiting period. Thanks to eleventh-hour intervention by State Senator Betsy Johnson and OHCS Director, Margaret Salazar, a grant from OHCS’s Mental Health Housing Fund came through to make up the difference.
The development is slated to be completed by June 2019, and fully occupied by August 2019.
Community Action Team