City News

Salem City Council pushes forward with affordable housing projects

The Salem City Council will decide Monday whether to spend millions of dollars to subsidize two affordable housing projects that would add over 300 apartments to the city in coming years.

It would be the first use of the $10 million voters in 2022 set aside for city-funded affordable housing projects as part of a larger infrastructure bond measure.

How to participate

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Monday, July 8, and will be both in-person at the council chambers, 555 Liberty St. S.E., and available to watch online. Members of the public can submit a comment for any item on the council agenda.

To comment remotely, sign up on the city website between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday. The meeting will be livestreamed on the YouTube in English and Spanish.

For written comments, email [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Monday, or submit on paper to the city recorder’s office at the Civic Center, 555 Liberty St. S.E., room 225. Include a statement indicating the comment is for the public record.

Councilors will vote Monday on spending $3 million for street, water and sewer infrastructure as part of necessary improvements prior to the construction of 183 new affordable apartments at the intersection of Southeast Joseph Street and Southeast Aumsville Highway. 

The project is being pursued by developer Neighborly Development, LLC and the apartments will be 60% of area median income, according to a staff memo from city director of community planning and development, Kristin Retherford. In Marion County, the 2024 area median income for a family of four is $54,780. Rent for a one bedroom apartment is estimated to be $1,028. 

The money comes from the 2022 infrastructure package Salem voters approved, which included $10 million to promote affordable housing projects.

The project is located at the intersection of Southeast Joseph Street and Aumsville Highway, Kristin Retherford, the city’s director of community planning and development said in a staff memo. Improvements needed for construction are expected to cost $5.5 million, she said.

Construction on the new affordable housing will begin in the spring of 2025 if the project secures state money. If the developer gets word it will receive the award by August those funds are expected to become available in January 2025.

Salem General Hospital site housing project 

On Monday, councilors will potentially alter an existing agreement to facilitate a $3.4 million property purchase between Salem Health and affordable housing developer Green Light, which is planning a 120-unit affordable apartment in northeast Salem.

Under the updated deal, the city will buy the around 10.6 acres at the 2500 block of Northeast Center Street, near Yaquina Hall, for $3.4 million from Salem Health and then sell it to Green Light for the same price to be developed into housing.

The deal would allow the city to retain 50,000 square feet of the property for conservation purposes where a park and memorial site would be developed, according to a staff memo from city attorney, Dan Atchison. 

The city would be required buy the site by no later than Dec. 31, 2024.  

The amended deal would lower the purchase price for the site by $400,000 which would be used to develop the conservation area.

If passed, the city will also take an additional $400,000 from the affordable housing bond funds to pay for improvements on D Street adjacent to the development. That money would not be repaid.

City to require transparency for contractors, subcontractors and companies 

The council will decide Monday whether to modify the city’s subsidy program for apartment development to require transparency documentation be submitted by all contractors, subcontractors and companies performing work on projects funded by the program. 

The proposal from Mayor Chris Hoy comes after councilors approved a 10-year property tax break for a downtown apartment building planned by Portland-based Deacon Development. 

After several members of the Western States Regional Council of Carpenters testified before council alleging unfair labor practices on another city-subsidized Deacon development, councilors decided to award Deacon the tax break with the caveat that new transparency requirements would be put in place to prevent worker exploitation on worksites.  

Other items

  • City Councilor Virginia Stpleton will formally resign as council president to focus on her campaign for the Oregon House of Representatives. 
  • Mayor Chris Hoy will issue a proclamation certifying election results in the primary election on May 21, 2024. 
  • Councilors will hear the National Legal Aid and Defender Association Report for Salem Municipal Court Indigent Defense Services. The report is based on a study conducted in May 2021 on the current state of the indigent defense services for the Salem Municipal Court. 
  • Councilors will listen to an information session about a development with 26 new housing units. 
  • On Monday councelors will vote to amend an agreement between the city and the Orchard Heights Water Association for the first time, which will allow the Orchard Heights Water Association to add new legally created lots to its water service area.

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790.

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.