Salem tries for state, federal grants to get affordable housing project built

The proposed site of Sequoia Crossings, a 60-unit apartment for chronically homeless people, at 3120 Broadway St. N.E. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

After breaking ground on a first of its kind project last year, the Salem Housing Authority is hopeful it can secure grant funding for another housing project that would help get those who are chronically homeless off the street and connected to services.

Sequoia Crossings, planned for 3120 Broadway Ave. N.E, would provide permanent supportive housing through 60 units of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with caseworkers from The ARCHES Project inside the building to offer support. The model is considered highly effective in treating chronic homelessness.

Salem Housing Authority has applied for two separate grants for the $18 million construction project and plans to open the doors early next year if it gets state funding from Oregon Housing and Community Services or a more competitive pot of federal funding through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits program.

“We’re ready to go if we can get these grants,” said Nicole Utz, administrator of the Salem Housing Authority.

She said the housing authority will find out if it receives the grants in June.

Utz said the housing authority applied for both grants simultaneously because the housing is sorely needed. The land is owned by the housing authority and is currently vacant.

Rent will be based off income and the housing will target those who have a criminal or credit history that provides barriers to finding housing.

Redwood Crossings, the city’s first permanent supportive housing project, opened last year to serve 30 people with higher needs like drug addiction or those who have disabilities. While that project houses only single people, Sequoia Crossings will have space for families.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness said such projects helped lower the number of chronically homeless people across the country by 20% since 2007. That, in turn, takes pressure off shelters, hospitals, jails and prisons.

Utz said the project will be one of its most unique to date, with a spacious community center and apartments surrounding a center courtyard.

She said it will provide residents the opportunity to transition out of housing with services onsite and into their own apartment. Like Redwood Crossings, some may need to stay indefinitely.

The housing authority also runs the Homeless Rental Assistance Program, which aims to provide housing for those who are homeless with substance addictions and physical or mental woes through private rentals scattered around the city.

The program already had difficulty meetings its goals pre-pandemic because of a lack of landlords willing to participate. Utz said the past year has been particularly difficult to get landlords to sign on during an eviction moratorium.

“This is why Sequoia, Yaquina, they’re all vital right now,” Utz said.

Yaquina Hall is another affordable housing project that has been in the works for years. It has stalled in part because of state delays.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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