Damage from the Archie Creek fire, one of five mega-fires that spread in Oregon over Labor Day weekend in 2020. (Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation via Flickr)

Oregon counties devastated by the 2020 Labor Day fires will get 625 new affordable homes thanks to more than $73 million from the state Housing Stability Council. 

Those wildfires burned more than 1 million acres and destroyed more than 4,000 homes. More than 1,700 of those were manufactured homes, one of the few affordable options for families.

The $73 million in grants announced this month is just a portion of more than $422 million the federal Housing and Urban Development Department allocated to Oregon for wildfire recovery. Most of the new homes will be income-restricted rental properties in Jackson, Marion, Clackamas and Lincoln counties.

In Jackson County, where the Almeda Fire destroyed the Talent Mobile Estates manufactured home park and displaced nearly 90 families, a nonprofit will receive $7.5 million to buy the land and begin converting it to a cooperative owned by residents. 

Medford will get 84 new homes, half of which will be sold to families making 80% or less of the median income, which in Jackson County is $81,400. Medford will also be home to more than 230 new income-restricted rental apartments, intended to house agricultural workers displaced by the fires, and 22 income-restricted cottages for seniors. 

A Salem apartment project, Gateway, will receive $25 million for the  construction of 129 apartments that can only be rented by people with household incomes below 60% of the median in the area, which in Salem is $89,100. 

Marion County will also receive $2.8 million to build 24 homes outside Salem city limits but inside the city’s urban growth boundary, a line that dictates where cities can expand. Those homes will be for sale for people earning up to 80% of the median income, but the land the homes sit on will be held by a community land trust. 

The county government will also get $1.7 million to purchase 15 acres of land in Mill City to use for future affordable housing. 

“Currently, we have around 300 households in Marion County who don’t have a place to call home,” Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell said in a statement. “This $1.7 million is not just going to purchase land; it’s going to give us the opportunity to create affordable, long-term housing that works for this community that was devastated by the wildfires.”  

A Lincoln City nonprofit will receive almost $4 million to build 44 income-restricted apartments for people displaced by wildfires that burned mobile home parks in the northern part of Lincoln County. In Clackamas County, almost $10 million will go toward 36 apartments in the rural community of Estacada.

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Julia Shumway, Oregon Capital Chronicle

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.