Areas affected by 2020 Labor Day fires will get 625 affordable homes

A deer sculpture remains before a vinyl fence warped by heat and the remnants of a home in Gates in 2020. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

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.