Nonprofit DevNW unveiled six new affordable homes in Cottage Grove on Monday, moving the city another step forward in its mission to increase housing availability in the area.
“Cottage Grove was really great in terms of all the permits and helping keep the project on track,” said Erin Dey, DevNW director of real estate development. “We had a very good experience with the city.”
DevNW was created last year when nonprofits Neighborhood for Economic Development Corporation and Corvallis-based Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services united to increase regional impact. The nonprofit aims to empower communities through a variety of methods such as financial counseling, revitalization projects and assistance programs.
The cluster of Cottage Grove cottages were developed just off Arthur Avenue and all six homes are scheduled to be closing deals by the end of the month with families ideally moving in soon thereafter.
“I’m excited that we have a couple of young families who have young kids,” said DevNW CEO Emily Reiman. “I think it’s great they can grow up being friends in this sort of cottage cluster environment.”
The new homes were developed as a community land trust, which legally separates the land from the houses, allowing DevNW to retain stewardship over the land. Home-buyers thus acquire full ownership of the home without having to cover the cost of the land, providing opportunities for more moderate-income buyers.
“So for most of the families, it’s actually less expensive than the rent that they’re paying now for their rentals,” said Reiman. “And it will allow them to build assets over time, so that’s something we’re really excited about.”
As a permanent affordable housing model, it is also intended to create a long-term habit of homeownership within the community.
The two-story cottages feature both two- and three-bedroom versions aimed at families earning below 80 percent of the area median income.
This put a cap on eligibility, meaning a family of two was limited to an annual income of $41,550 and a family of five limited to $56,100.
Average mortgage payments end up being $1,050 a month for the three-bedroom homes and $950 for the two-bedroom.
“The big win here is that we’re providing families with a brand new, healthy structure,” said DevNW Asset Building Manager Luis Mendoza. “A lot of them are young and just starting out their families.”
With the increasing rate of rent, the new homes provide relief for families struggling to gain a foothold and, Mendoza hopes, a place where they can establish long-term stability.
“So as long as they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing, this is going to be where they potentially retire,” he said, adding that being able to develop wealth and assets is important for building community. “It has a significant impact in what the City of Cottage Grove has been able to do what we’ve been able to do in conjunction with them in order to help them have a clean, healthy, low-maintenance structure.”
One family, Reiman said, is a recipient of a housing choice voucher – formerly known as a Section 8 – from Homes for Good.
“That program has a little-known provision that allows people who are on a housing choice voucher – if they can find a home to buy where the mortgage payment, all together, is still under the fair market rent that is the allowed limit for the housing choice voucher, they can actually use that voucher toward ownership instead of toward rental,” said Reiman.
Lane County homes, however, have not been selling at affordable enough rates to utilize the program for some time.
“And so we’re very excited to have a family who qualified for one of these homes and was able to make that move,” said Reiman. “We’re hoping that that will become a model and that we can partner with Homes for Good as we’re doing more of these developments in Cottage Grove and around Lane County.”
DevNW is currently scouting for land for 2021 applications.
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