Salem Housing Authority to welcome people who have been chronically homeless to first of its kind project locally

Redwood Crossing will offer 37 apartments to those who have difficultly getting and staying in housing. (Courtesy/Salem Housing Authority)

The Salem Housing Authority will soon welcome residents to a first of its kind facility in Salem, meant to provide longer-term housing and wraparound services for those who need it most.

Redwood Crossing at 4107 Fisher Road N.E., the city’s first permanent supportive housing project, is set to open in August providing 30 single occupancy units, six medical respite units for people who are ill and a one-bedroom apartment that’s ADA compliant.

Nicole Utz, housing administrator at the Salem Housing Authority, said there have been 16 people approved so far. The complex will offer project-based vouchers through federal Housing and Urban Development for those making $24,750 a year or less.

Utz said the program has similar support services to the city’s Homeless Rental Assistance Program, which pairs tenants with caseworkers to help them set up doctor’s appointments or get them a driver’s license, but those services will be offered on site instead of at scattered site properties.

“It’s a huge win because they have everything right at their fingertips to help them succeed and move onto more stabilized housing,” Utz said.

The Homeless Rental Assistance Program had difficulty meeting its goals in the second year of the program, only housing about half of what it had aimed for. An internal city review in 2019 said the program’s “slow start” was due to a dearth of affordable housing and trouble “building rapport with local landlords.”

Landlords told Salem Reporter last year they were taking a risk by participating in the program. Since then, HRAP has downsized to 50 people to meet the available stock in the Salem area.

The ARCHES Project will have five staff at Redwood Crossing to offer help to residents and the Salem Housing Authority will have one case manager onsite.

Unlike HRAP, there’s no time limit to staying at Redwood, so those that need longer to transition to Section 8 vouchers will be able to.

“There are some that may never leave Redwood,” Utz said. “This gives them the opportunity that they can stay there instead of transition out.”

Ashley Hamilton with ARCHES said her staff will help meet the needs of each resident, from substance abuse treatment to getting them to doctor’s appointments.

She said the project will give preference to ARCHES clients who are the most vulnerable and have been without a home for years.  

“Where we still have room for opportunity and growth is the folks among us that are most in need and still have these very unique barriers to housing, even in addition to HRAP support,” Hamilton said.

They could have chronic health problems or a mental health condition that requires additional support in navigating the system of finding housing and keeping it.

“It takes them along this journey over a longer and extended period of time so there’s no fallout on the back end,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the Salem Housing Authority is taking an active role in this project by becoming more than just a property management agency.

The Salem Housing Authority purchased the property, initially an unfinished assisted living facility, in 2018. In total, it cost $4.2 million to purchase and construct.

Redwood is modeled after a similar housing project in Vancouver, Washington called Lincoln Place. 

SUPPORT ESSENTIAL REPORTING FOR SALEM – A subscription starts at $5 a month for around-the-clock access to stories and email alerts sent directly to you. Your support matters. Go HERE.

Have a story tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.