Lincoln County Commissioners Terry Thompson and Bill Hall Wednesday gave the green light to officially begin construction of truly affordable housing – in this case – for low income workers and their families who want to live within the Yachats community. As it is, there is no such housing still available in Yachats, according to a report to the county commissioners.
After reviewing a near mind-boggling list of loans, grants and other investments that have come forward to fund the project, the commissioners added to it a property tax exemption on all Fisterra units which sealed the deal.
Construction reportedly will begin this week or next on Diversity Drive at the north end of Yachats. There will be 6 studio apartments, 3 one bedroom apartments, 10 two bedroom apartments and 2 three bedroom apartments. The property will be managed by a firm that specializes in such services. The company is Cascades Property Management out of Portland. Cascades is already managing affordable housing apartments in Lincoln City, Newport and Florence.
County Commissioners also commented that more affordable housing is expected to be built throughout Oregon in the near future thanks to a new state law that allows homeowners, with big enough lots, to build a granny house on their property. Homeowners can either sell the smaller home or rent it out.
Commissioners and the county counsel indicated that Oregon’s affordable housing dilemma has become a full blown housing crisis which is not being solved by the home construction industry. The industry claims there are too few construction workers available and profit margins on smaller homes are impossibly small.
Affordable housing advocates say solutions to the crisis will be coming from a variety of factors – smaller homes, steel constructed homes, pre-manufactured homes, most of which will be “assembled” on site rather than being fully assembled in a factory. There is also rising interest in constructing low to mid-rise apartment/condo buildings – some owner-occupied – others renting – residential units limited to the second, third and fourth floors. Having commercial businesses on the ground floor helps to reduce the cost for all of the residential units above. It’s been a common approach in much of Europe for many decades. In fact, the conventional wisdom concerning the upcoming generation of America’s young adults, aka “Millennials,” is that they don’t want the burden of a large house on a large lot to take care of. They deeply value the old standard that claims “Small is Better.”
After approving the project, the commissioners lamented that it took developer Layne Morrill many, many months to assemble the grants, loans, tax credits and jumping through a myriad of other financial hoops to make the project pencil out. Commissioner Thompson decried all the extended tedious work involved and the time it took to pull it off. Thompson said, “We have to streamline the process.” On that, everybody agreed.
The rest of this story falls under editor remarks to better frame the implications of the story
But from the perspective of lots of others – it’s going to take a mass acknowledgement that the way America provides shelter for its citizens is no longer working. And that the rules of the American economy and workplace no longer reflect what’s best, or even fair, for the average American family. Although many get tired of hearing about it…the American tax system has been slowly and meticulously “refined” to benefit the already wealthy at the expense of EVERYONE ELSE. Too much money in politics has produced a tax system that is obviously rigged. Until we fix it, we will continue to see occasional stories like this, where a high-energy, highly motivated and good-hearted developer literally spends YEARS researching and negotiating private and public grants, loans, tax-credits and other financial devices to make it even possible – and then only for a mere 21 housing units. Oregon alone needs thousands upon thousands of them.
America’s housing crisis is the product of a long festering and worsening tax system. A veteran fireman once told this reporter that the first thing you tell a firefighter recruit is, “Don’t aim your hose at the flames. Aim it at what’s burning.”