Nonprofit Seeks Community Support for Low-Income Housing Project

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Maryam Bolouri of Hacienda CDC gives a presentation on a proposed low-income housing project during Monday night's Hermiston City Council meeting. (Screenshot)

An Oregon-based nonprofit is hoping to secure community support and state funding to develop low-income housing in Hermiston.

Maryam Bolouri, director of real estate development for Hacienda CDC, gave the Hermiston City Council Monday night an overview of Hacienda CDC and some specifics on its plans for Hermiston.

Bolouri said Hacienda CDC is in talks with the Hermiston School District about purchasing five acres adjacent to Loma Vista Elementary School on N.E. 10th Street off of Theater Lane. Plans call for 56 units that will include one, two and three bedrooms. Residents would have to qualify as low income in order to be eligible to apply.

She said the project has an estimated cost of $30 million, the bulk of which would come from state funding that is made available twice a year. The state will choose which projects will receive funding.

“We won’t get any funding from state if we can’t show we have local support , show that affordable housing is needed in Hermiston and the city is willing to help in both financial and non-financial ways,” Bolouri said. Community support is key to projects getting funded, she said.

A rendering of one possible design for low-income housing that Hacienda CDC hopes to build next to Loma Vista Elementary School in Hermiston. (Image courtesy of city of Hermiston)

Bolouri said the state has $800 million available, but only $60 million is set aside for rural communities throughout the state.

Hacienda CDC has tried unsuccessfully in the past to get funding for low-income housing in Hermiston, but Bolouri said she is optimistic about Hermiston’s chances in January 2024.

“This year I feel the time is ripe for Hermiston,” she said. “If we can get the city’s support, I don’t see why we can’t get that money to come into this area in January 2024.”

Bolouri told the council that Hacienda CDC does more than just develop housing.

“We develop communities,” she said. “It’s not just buildings. It’s all the services we provide. We hire from the community. We have a children’s program for kids under 3 with a playground and teach different skill sets. It’s open to the neighborhood, not just our residents.”

There are also programs for adults, such as how to recycle, how to use less water and lower energy costs, as well as support in job searches and seeking educational opportunities. The community also has a say in the design and colors of the housing.

“We engage with community from the start on the design of the buildings,” she said. “We meet with the city ahead of time to make sure all choices comply with all city codes. We want to make sure the community has input on what the design is going to be.”

Councilor Roy Barron praised the project.

“As a schoolteacher, I see the need for more community engagement, and I really like how Hacienda is more than just housing. I think it’s really necessary to build a community within a community. The more engaged citizenry that we get, we see other positive pro-social effects because of that. I will support it as a councilor.”

Barron, however, said the city is facing a budget shortfall that limits what, if any, financial support the city can offer.

“I don’t think anybody on this council doesn’t want to support it on the merits,” he said. “It’s just the financial end that’s going to be a little more difficult for the council to contribute. That being said, if there’s anything non-financial, we can support that.”

Mayor Dave Drotzmann said he hoped the project receives state funding and that City Manager Bryon Smith would continue to work with Bolouri in support of that effort.

“Maybe we’ll make a winner out of this one,” he said.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” added Bolouri.

1 COMMENT

  1. It sounds like you want to build a slum right in the newest part of town. Was this idea from the same source that decided to bus all those homeless people here? Why is there no public vote on these ideas? Not like the swimming pool, a real vote.

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