There’s some good news and some potentially bumpy news about how Lincoln County is going about getting struggling families into affordable housing.
Over the past few months, a sizeable amount of federal, state and local money has become available to help those families actually buy their own home. Diane Linn of a housing advocacy group out of Portland told the Lincoln City City Council that these suddenly emergent funds will be spent to help lower income families come up with down payments for lower cost existing homes in the county, Newport and Lincoln City.
But with the sudden good news about the available funds came a formidable new challenge – getting Lincoln County’s under-housed families qualified to accept the grants and actually move in. Like any home buyer, lower income families must have stable work histories, no un-paid court judgements against them, a good debt-to-income ratio and a decent credit rating. Because low income families have been struggling for so long, many need to pay down their debts in order to make the mortgage payments – however low they may be. In short, matching lower income families with this new program will take some time.
Linn then shifted gears a bit telling the councilors that all this must be in cooperation with the city of Newport and their lower income residents and with Lincoln County Commissioners and their lower income residents that live outside any city limits.
At that point, the proverbial fly hit the ointment. Linn said the city of Newport has already committed to the new work-force/affordable housing program. But Newport gave the process only six months to begin putting families in homes – under the guise that “they want to see some action” after so many years of a gut-wrenching housing crisis. And of course that raised some eyebrows among the Lincoln City councilors. Linn had just told that council that it’ll take time to place qualified families in lower priced homes – certainly more than six months to get the ball rolling.
At that point the Lincoln City City Council decided to give Linn and her Proud Ground organization a full year to begin showing some progress in housing lower income families in Lincoln City. The council asked Linn to contact Newport and tell them they should also extend their timeline to 12 months because of the true time it takes to get lower income families financially qualified.
We’ll see if Newport is willing to go along with extending the timeline for a full year.
Linn took what looked to be a couple of deep breaths and then thanked the Lincoln City councilors and promised to return to Newport and ask councilors there to give the process at least a year to produce enough certified homeowner candidates. She said she would also ask the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners for a full year to begin graduating qualified families into the program.
In other action the council unanimously approved hiring Emerick Construction to build the town’s new Public Safety Headquarters, weighing in at around $10.5 Million. So the city now has a Construction Manager, a General Contractor and a guaranteed cap on the total cost of the project.
No word yet on when they’ll break ground.