Hundreds of Salem residents may get a shot at an affordable apartment as the Salem Housing Authority plans to open waitlists for three properties next week.
The lists cover two new affordable housing complexes scheduled to open in Salem in early 2024 — publicly owned Sequoia Crossing, with 40 units prioritizing currently homeless renters; and Mahonia Crossing, a large private development in south Salem with 56 apartments reserved for tenants through the housing authority.
A waitlist will also open for two bedroom apartments in Parkway West, an older Salem Housing Authority property.
The new apartments come as the Salem area has a significant shortage of affordable housing, and many people with subsidized housing vouchers have difficulty finding a place they can rent.
“We’re seeing record numbers of folks experiencing homelessness right now and it’s very, very tough,” said Melanie Fletcher, assistant housing administrator of operations at Salem Housing Authority.
An open waitlist is a rare occurrence, and Fletcher couldn’t recall the last time the authority had so many new apartments to lease.
“This is a big offering, to say we have 50 units or we have 40 units,” she said. “We expect there’s going to be a lot of demand.”
How to apply for waitlists
Salem Housing Authority will open waitlists for the three properties Saturday, Aug. 19, at 9 a.m. and close the lists Monday, Sept. 4, at 11:59 p.m.
Details about each property, the income requirements and other eligibility information are published in a housing authority announcement here.
Anyone who submits an application during that time period will get on the waitlist, Fletcher said, and spots will be determined by random lottery order, rather than first-come, first-served.
“Doing a lottery allows everyone to have an equal chance to be placed on the list,” she said. “We don’t want to create a situation where people have to camp out and are waiting to apply.”
That’s something she saw years ago at a previous job with another housing authority.
People can apply for as many waitlists as they’re eligible for.
Fletcher said it typically takes the housing authority 15-30 people on a waitlist to fill one apartment vacancy because people are often on lists for multiple properties and no longer need housing when their name comes up.
Housing authority administrators hope to fill 56 units at Mahonia Crossing, a private affordable housing development in Salem’s South Gateway neighborhood which will eventually include 313 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
The development, at 5120 Salal St. S.E, is being built by Community Development Partners, a Portland-based developer, at a cost of $114 million which comes primarily from state money.
It’s intended to be a multi-generational community, meaning it will house families with kids and seniors, and put on activities intended to draw generations together.
“The intent is to try to make those interactions as deliberate as possible,” said Thomas Eldridge, development manager. The complex’s gym, for instance, is located inside the building housing seniors so younger residents working out will naturally encounter older members of the community.
The first buildings are expected to open in December and January, Eldridge said. Most will be privately leased at rates intended to be affordable for people earning between 30 and 80% of Salem’s median income.
But a mix of one-bedroom apartments for seniors and two- and three-bedroom units for families will be leased through the housing authority.
“We’re really excited about this one,” Fletcher said.
Those units come with a federal housing voucher to subsidize rent, meaning residents would pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent. A single person earning less than $29,300 annually, a couple earning less than $33,500 or a family of four earning less than $41,850 would be eligible.
Eldridge said leasing for other units will likely begin in December through their property management company, Guardian, and continue as more buildings are completed in 2024. A total of 113 units in the building will be reserved for wildfire survivors.
The housing authority is also leasing 40 new apartments at Sequoia Crossings, a development that’s been years in the making and is intended to house chronically homeless people.
The property, at 3120 Broadway St . N.E., is scheduled to open in early 2024. It will have a total of 60 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with 20 of those to be leased by the state at a later date.
Because the complex is intended to house homeless people, those referred to the waitlist through one of the Salem area’s coordinated entry sites will get priority for an apartment, Fletcher said. Coordinated entry sites are social service providers working with homeless people who enter data into a shared system intended to make it easier for organizations to identify people in need of help.
Salem providers include the Center for Hope & Safety and The ARCHES Project. A complete list is available online.
The project is permanent supportive housing, meaning people living there receive subsidized rent and social services onsite to help them address issues like addiction or mental health care.
“It’s a pretty place,” Fletcher said.
The authority is also opening the waitlist for two-bedroom apartments at Parkway West, an affordable apartment building at 3143 7th Pl. N.E.
The complex has 78 units, with monthly rents between $625 and $895, according to the housing authority website.
Most units are available to households earning 60% or less of the area median income, which is $35,160 for a single person, $40,200 for two people, or $50,220 for a family of four.
Fletcher said the authority opens the waitlist when they fall below about 100 applicants.
“We just want to make sure we don’t run out of applicants on the list,” she said.
Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
SUPPORT OUR WORK – We depend on subscribers for resources to report on Salem with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!
Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.