Redmond City Leaders Explore Housing Works Partnership

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Redmond city leaders were recognized for their leadership role in partnering with Housing Works, the affordable housing agency for Central Oregon, which has turned trashed houses seized by the police department into community assets.

Mayor George Endicott, Chief of Police Dave Tarbet and city council members recently toured three houses seized by the police department over the past two years, which the city council voted to lease to Housing Works for use in its Tutor House Program. The program provides housing for low-income families who are determined to become homeowners.

To qualify for the Tutor House Program, renters must follow a monthly budget and complete educational components designed to increase their success as homeowners.  They must demonstrate that by the end of the lease, their income will support a mortgage and other expenses of homeownership, and their credit will be sufficient to secure mortgage financing. Each participant has an Individual Development Account, a state tax credit program in which a portion of their rent gets matched 3 to 1, to create a fund for a down payment on a house purchase.

“The whole idea is to provide a hand up, not a handout,” said Housing Works Executive Director Tom Kemper, a former commercial real estate developer in Portland. “After two years, Tutor House tenants give up their funding assistance and secure homeownership on their own,” he said. “It’s an exciting program that really benefits the community.”

In the process of rehabbing the seized houses, Housing Works worked with HomeFederal Bank on financing construction materials and partnered with Heart of Oregon YouthBuild to do the remodeling work. YouthBuild recruits young people ages 16-24 who have dropped out of school. At YouthBuild, they learn construction skills while they work toward their GED and develop a positive work ethic.  All partners, including the City of Redmond and the Redmond Police Department received Housing Works’ Dignity through Housingaward.


Kemper said the seized houses were in bad shape initially. Two of them were marijuana production facilities with walls and ceilings punched out to install ventilation systems. The rehab project inspired employees from Housing Works and HomeFederal to donate their time to landscape the yard of the most recently completed home.  According to Kemper, the project has been a win for everyone involved.

Housing Works is the largest affordable housing provider in Central Oregon. It provides people with quality, safe and affordable homes; and through a number of collaborations, it provides the resources to help people stabilize their lives. Housing Works obtains public funding from federal, state and local governments and leverages these funds with private capital from local financial institutions and foundations to provide quality housing that meets communities’ needs.

Housing Works developments in Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Madras and Sisters have won awards for innovation, economic impact, design, beautification, and historic preservation and enhancement.  For more information, visit www.housing-works.org.

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