Ground breakers

Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing (center) welcomed members of nonprofit DevNW to the community for a ceremony marking the construction of six new community land trust homes last Friday.

DevNW and community leaders celebrate construction on six new affordable homes

Nonprofit DevNW celebrated the continuing construction of six community land trust homes in Cottage Grove Jan. 24, a project which will offer permanent homeownership for low- and middle-income families in the area.

“This particular project was a labor of love and we ran into a lot of hurdles along the way,” said DevNW CEO Emily Reiman at the event.

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 six new homes under construction on Arthur Avenue are being sold to homebuyers below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).

Cottage Grove’s AMI was estimated to be as high as $47,000 according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2014-2018.

Eligibility for ownership of the new land trust homes will be dependent on family size and annual income, ranging from an income limit of $36,350 per year for one person to $56,100 for a family of five.

Buyers may also qualify for up to $25,000 in down payment assistance.

“We’re really trying to make this as accessible as possible,” said Reiman.

Reiman also expressed her appreciation to Banner Bank and city officials for their support of the project.

“Literally, we would not be able to do this project and sell these homes if Banner Bank had not stepped up to the plate,” she said. “And the City of Cottage Grove has been supportive from the very beginning of this project.”

DevNW bought the property around five years ago, said Reiman, and has nearly completed the process of development, which included securing a land trust model which will enable more affordable housing for potential buyers.

“Homeownership has been a priority for DevNW for all of our existence,” said Reiman, emphasizing it as a strategy for deeper community impact. “It offers families so much more than just a roof over their heads.”

The land trust legally separates the land from the homes, allowing DevNW to retain stewardship over the land and ideally establish a more stable and secure community. 

“It’s a good concept and I’m really excited about it,” said Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing. “We do need housing and this is providing homeownership. It’s proven that if you have more ownership, it’s going to give you a healthier community; people are vested in the community and they’re going to be here for the long haul.”

The land trust model is also meant to encourage a long-term habit of homeownership within the community.

“It’s a really powerful model that will ensure these homes are affordable not just for the first family who buys them, but also for every successive sale and new family,” said Reiman. “Probably a lot of them will be first-time homebuyers and hopefully a lot of them will already be residents of Cottage Grove who are wanting deeper roots in the community.”

The two-story homes are expected to be completed this summer, four of which will feature three bedrooms and the remaining two a two-bedroom design.

“We hope that these six are the first of more to come,” said Reiman. “We’d like Cottage Grove to have 10 or 20 or 30 permanently affordable homeownership opportunities.”

The application period is open until Feb. 3 and buyers are expected to be selected during the construction process, which will allow for a degree of homeowner customization.

Potential homebuyers may apply online at devnw.org or contact Luis Mendoza by email at [email protected] or by phone at 541-345-7106 ext. 2053.

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