Affordable housing coming

Including 6 “Rose Street Cottages”


October 12, 2023 | View PDF

BLUE RIVER: Only 30% of area homes have been rebuilt three years after the Holiday Farm Fire scorched 173,000 acres and destroyed over 500 residences. In a step to reverse that trend, the McKenzie Community Land Trust (MCLT) has acquired 2 acres to build 6 affordable homes in Blue River.

“The Rose Street Cottages will help address a long-standing community need for affordable housing,” according to Lane Tompkins, McKenzie School Superintendent and chairman of the MCLT board. The project, he says, will ensure “a vibrant, dynamic McKenzie Community.”

Organizers say working families haven’t been able to afford to live and work here. “These 6 homes are a step in that direction,” Tompkins notes. “Our families help to manage our forests, provide vital services to McKenzie residents and tourists, volunteer for our fire departments, and send their children to our schools.”

Founded in 2022, organizers say the MCLT’s primary vision was focused on providing home ownership to people struggling to find an affordable option after the wildfire. In addition, though, the land trust model could be expanded to assist locally owned businesses, commercial development, and other public benefit projects.

6 stick-built 3 bedroom/2 bath affordable homes would be built on the Rose Street Cottages property, with a goal of also utilizing "firewise" building designs.

The McKenzie Community Land Trust would sell the homes, but not the land, to buyers who are earning 80% of the average median income. That process would help keep costs down for the first buyer, and anyone who might purchase that home in the future.

The large loss of housing has affected aspects of community life in the McKenzie River Valley. In addition, home and property values have increased significantly. The cost to rebuild a home after the Holiday Farm Fire is averaging around 40% higher than it was prefire. Because the McKenzie River is a tourist destination, there has also been an increase in second homes.

A review of Zillow finds that the typical Blue River home in December 2022 has increased roughly 28% over two years, putting homeownership out of reach for Blue River’s low to moderate-income families.

The MCLT in partnership with DevNW, another non-profit with an office in Springfield, was awarded $800,000 from Lane County, funding earmarked for Holiday Farm Fire recovery from the State. In addition, $1,085,505 was awarded for the Rose Street CLT project through the Oregon Housing and Community Services LIFT Program.

The MCLT is currently raising money to fund future affordable housing and economic development projects and just signed an option to purchase an additional residential property in Blue River.


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