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Employer Sponsors Needed For Workforce Housing Project

BEND, OR -- The next Rooted Homes affordable housing neighborhood is going in near 18th and Simpson, in southwest Bend. Executive Director Jackie Keogh says crews are installing infrastructure for what will eventually be 40 single-family homes. "That site did not have water or sewer, so we’re bringing those utilities to the site. And that typically is the more difficult part of our projects. Once we have that set up, it’s a lot easier to build the homes." They’re accepting applications this week from businesses who want their employees given preference to buy in Rooted at Simpson.

Rooted’s first workforce housing development on Poplar opened last year. Keogh says, "The Bend Chamber and some of their select members sponsored the entire pilot last time, which meant the employers were contributing a lot less." This time, employers will pay more, "Construction costs are still some of the highest in the state in Central Oregon. And, in the state, where we get our funding to subsidize these units, that money hasn’t increased since the 80s. So, because of that, we have this gap."

For this project, near 18th and Simpson, businesses can directly support their employee’s closing costs with a $10,000 donation, "Or, they can purchase - essentially get written into the deed. So every time the home resells, it would go back to that major employer’s employees in perpetuity," says Keogh, "So it would be like a long-term asset that business would have to offer their employees. And that is a cost of $50,000." Companies only pay if one of their employees is selected as a homeowner. 

She tells KBND News it’s a question of economics, "Is the employer interested in paying for continuous hiring, as they lose employees due to the high cost of housing, and retention to keep employees who are unstable in their housing. Or, are they interested in investing in this program?"

Employer applications are due April first. The company’s diversity of workforce must be equal to or greater than the city of Bend, which is just under 91% white. Home buyers must earn no more than 80% of the Area Median Income. 

Rooted at Simpson is expected to open in early 2025. 


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