Oregon Cities

Small Oregon cities hope to get a piece of state’s $500 million housing development proposal

Gov. Kotek’s signature housing package, Senate Bill 1537, includes $200 million in funding for housing infrastructure to address the state’s home shortage.

According to the governor’s office Oregon needs to build nearly half a million units in the next 20 years to keep up with demand.

Workers install a “Mass Casita” in Otis, Ore., in this June 7, 2023 file photo. The Oregon legislature approved $5 million in 2021 for a pilot project to study the use of mass timber for modular home construction, determining if this could be utilized to address Oregon’s housing shortage. This home is one of six in the project, all installed in different climates and regions throughout Oregon.

Workers install a “Mass Casita” in Otis, Ore., in this June 7, 2023 file photo. The Oregon legislature approved $5 million in 2021 for a pilot project to study the use of mass timber for modular home construction, determining if this could be utilized to address Oregon’s housing shortage. This home is one of six in the project, all installed in different climates and regions throughout Oregon.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

Some cities have projects that could help the state reach that goal. Infrastructure funding could speed up those developments.

Central Point in the Rogue Valley wants over $1 million for a roundabout and traffic signal. The city’s public works director, Matt Samitore, said that would save them two years on completing a housing development.

“I’m sure basically everybody in the valley is in similar circumstances where there’s potential housing available. But there’s infrastructure — whether or not that’s water, sewer, or transportation, stormwater — needed in order to move the project forward,” said Samitore.

Cave Junction in Josephine County has a $2 million proposal for new streets and water lines to help a potential development of around 60 homes. Klamath Falls could use a few hundred thousand dollars for sewer systems to serve dozens of planned townhomes.

Jim McCauley, legislative director at the League of Oregon Cities, said local governments can struggle to finance infrastructure needed to build more housing.

“The one thing that those small cities don’t have, in many cases, is a large enough population base to spread those costs around,” said McCauley.

Late last year his organization, which supports more housing infrastructure funding, collected hundreds of project ideas from around the state.

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