Commission approved $500K to fund affordable housing projects

The Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission hopes to spend more than $500,000 on six affordable housing programs to provide services to low-income and homeless people.
Staff presented six proposals submitted this year for the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund of $300,000 and Affordable Housing Trust Fund of $366,000 for the commission’s consideration at its March 22 meeting. The commission voted to allocate $525,796 of the money, subject to Ashland City Council approval.
This is the first year the Affordable Housing Trust Fund — funded by marijuana tax and rehabilitation loan repayments — was made available for applications. CDBG is an annual grant that the city receives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund projects benefiting homeless and low-income housing projects. Both grants have a set of restrictions for applications, including a requirement of matching funds.
“It’s very exciting,” the city’s Housing Specialist Linda Reid said. “We don’t get to do this very often.”
The projects, ranging from case management services for at-risk youth to land acquisition to maintenance costs, will benefit a number of low-income residents and families within the city, staff said.
Staff will present the commission’s recommendation to the City Council for approval on April 17.
Here are the six projects and the amount they are would be granted:
• Columbia Care is getting $400,000 from both grants this year to acquire a parcel on Ashland Street and build 25 affordable housing units, including those designated for tenants with “serious mental illness.”
The complex will be managed by staff who are “qualified mental health professionals.”
According to its application, Columbia Care is a nonprofit and a primary provider of mental health services for Jackson Care Connect. The organization has been hoping to build a housing complex on a 1.09-acre parcel owned by Rogue Credit Union since 2017. It signed a purchase agreement with Rogue in April 2017.
The $400,000 ($300,000 from the trust fund and $100,000 from CDBG) will cover the land acquisition costs, new construction and pre-development fees. The project is also funded and supported by Oregon Housing and Community Services and AllCare Health CCO, according to its grant application.
• Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity will be the recipient of $50,000 from the city’s CDBG fund to help acquire five lots from a proposed subdivision called Katherine Mae on East Nevada Street. The proposed subdivision faced scrutiny at the March 20 City Council meeting for requesting a number of exceptions to its affordable housing requirement.
Staff said the grant will be contingent on the approval of the subdivision.
Habitat for Humanity proposes to build five affordable units for sale, allowing workforce families to pay $500 to $600 a month.
The City Council will continue the discussion April 17.
• Ashland Housing Opportunities will receive $49,653 to replace the roof, repaint rooms and upgrade interior furniture at its StarThistle building — a 12-unit housing complex for low-income “individuals with a diagnosis of severe or mental illness” on Siskiyou Boulevard.
The building was built in 1998 through a federal grant. It serves 11 tenants and a manager who also works as a counselor on site.
• Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland made three requests totaling roughly $200,000 to cover a potential housing project and its annual personnel costs. The commission approved its $19,000 request, which will fund a community needs assessment and other planning fees for a project of 16 permanent affordable housing units.
The organization sought $100,000 from the housing trust fund to pay for a 2.36-acre lot on Washington Street. According to its purchase contract, OHRA is due in 2022 to pay $180,000 for the lot. It doesn’t have a design for the project, according to its grant application.
OHRA also requested roughly $86,000 to cover its increasing personnel costs as it added more staff to provide more services. Its goal is to put more homeless families in housing, protect more at-risk families from being homeless and have more staff working case management.
• Maslow Project is receiving $7,143 from the city’s CDBD grant to support its staff in Ashland. The organization works directly with at-risk youth and families throughout the valley. In Ashland, it identified 45 individuals it would serve in 2018, according to its application.
Maslow also receives funding from the Ashland School District and other agencies, which totals $54,000.
Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.

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