(The Hiatus Roanoke Model design to be donated and replicated in the new Kôr Community Land Trust Poplar Community affordable housing project | Photo courtesy of Hiatus Homes)
Land Trust Links with Net Zero Development Specialists to Spur Workforce Housing
The nonprofit Kôr Community Land Trust is progressing its mission to create affordable, sustainable home ownership communities in Central Oregon with the announcement that it is partnering with net zero development specialists Hiatus Homes for its latest project in SW Bend.
Hiatus Homes will support the effort through acting both as general contractor and by donating plans used for the successful Hiatus Roanoke project on westside Bend to be repurposed for the new Poplar Street community.
Kôr Community Land Trust Executive Director, Jackie Keogh, said, “Leveraging market-rate designs through our new partnership with Hiatus Homes will not only provide our affordable homes with unmatched quality, but also significantly help keep our costs down to ensure we can sell these homes at an affordable price to the community.”
Kôr was launched as a grass roots effort in 2014 to pursue the community land trust model in a bid to ensure that Central Oregon’s workforce and all who make up the fabric of the economy and community have access to healthy, affordable homes for generations to come.
An associated goal is to employ net-zero energy standards to ensure equitable access to energy-efficient homes, and the health and savings that come with it, as well as expanding opportunities for homebuyers who have been excluded from the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership.
Kôr Community Land Trust was founded in 2014 by two Bend residents, Amy Warren and Jason Offut, who saw too many community members displaced because of the cost of housing in the area. At the same time, typical affordable housing lacked a commitment to sustainability and the cost-saving that comes with it for residents. In response, Kôr has grown to provide environmentally sustainable and permanently affordable homeownership communities for Central Oregon’s workforce.
The Community Land Trust model was actually born out of the civil rights movement when sharecroppers in Georgia could not claim the right to vote without owning land. They pooled their resources and collectively purchased a working farm and, in doing so, started the first Community Land Trust.
Since, Community Land Trusts have developed across the Northwest and the nation and while their community needs are diverse, they all use a similar model. Homeowners own their home outright by leveraging a traditional mortgage; the Community Land Trust owns the land under the house and leases it back to the homeowner, typically through a 99-year renewable land lease.
The lease ensures that the home resells to another income-qualified homebuyer if the homeowners sell. The original homeowner receives a fair return on their initial investment while helping future generations access affordable homes as they did.
Working families and individuals who can qualify for a mortgage often cannot afford to purchase a home in the current rising market climate as their wages remain relatively stagnant, but Kôr aims to bridge this gap by creating homeownership that is attainable and affordable.
Kôr communities primarily serve low-income households, with up to a quarter of their homes available to middle-income households. In this way, Kôr creates mixed-income communities for households earning between 65 percent AMI to 120 percent AMI. For a family of three in Bend, that’s an annual income range of approximately $47,034 to $86,832 annually.
Kôr homes are built to high standards of craftmanship and designed to net-zero energy standards featuring solar panels, a tightly sealed building envelope, upgraded fixtures, hard surface flooring and energy efficient lighting and mechanicals.
Keough said Kôr is not only committed to breaking down the barriers for lower-income households to access affordable homeownership, but is also committed to energy justice, with the help of sustainable partners locally such as Sunlight Solar, Solar for All, Building Solutions, Energy Trust of Oregon, Earth Advantage and Northwest Aero Barrier.
Lower-income households are disproportionately burdened by energy insecurity due to their higher likelihood of living in older, energy-inefficient homes. This situation causes increased housing costs and unhealthy living conditions, linking housing to health insecurities. Persistent income and health inequality perpetuates instability that leads to generational poverty.
Keough was brought on board with Kôr after growing her affordable housing experience at the Portland Housing Bureau and for the last four years as Deputy Director at Proud Ground — the largest Community Land Trust in the Pacific Northwest.
In these roles, she has engaged with culturally and economically diverse communities to develop community-led strategic, communications and fundraising plans that are centered in diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. She said, “Our program was designed with a dual model to build affordable and sustainable net zero homes. As an example of our achieving energy efficiency goals, our average utility bill is $12 per month.
“The homes we create are designed to be permanently affordable, if someone liquidates, they agree to sell to another low-income household in a shared equity philosophy.
“We currently have 42 units in different stages with the City of Bend and the Poplar project benefits from net zero goals and Hiatus being willing to donate architectural plans used in their Roanoke project. They have built this model before and the homes will have the same level of quality and design as market rate housing.”
Kôr receives funds from a number of state, federal and city public sources as well as private donations, with the eventual price for a home being determined by the cost to build in combination with how much they are much able to raise. Last summer its first completed unit, a two-bed, two-bath home, sold at less than half the area median price.
Keough hailed the City of Bend as a “great partner” and praised it for providing funding to acquire land from Avion water Co. for the Poplar community. It has also invested in pre-development funds. She added, “We are aiming at first time homebuyers and the demand is huge. We don’t believe in waiting lists but run a housing lottery system. For the last project we had 90 people apply for five units, which shows how we need to keep scaling up to meet demand.
“We are always on the lookout for more land and development opportunities throughout Deschutes County and Central Oregon. The process can take some time, so we hope to find patient sellers who want to make an impact.”
All homebuyers must qualify for a traditional mortgage through a lender. To qualify for a loan, homebuyers must meet lender requirements, including credit scores, proof of income, debt-to-income ratios and bad debt limits.
Kor’s general contractor for the Poplar project, Hiatus Homes, is the leader of net-zero, small unit, market-rate and single-family developments in Deschutes County. Hiatus Homes has proven that small, efficient and design-driven developments have a positive community impact.
This partnership represents an innovative public private partnership in both reducing the cost of affordable housing but also building affordable units with the same integrity as market-rate homes. Hiatus Homes’ CEO, Jesse Russell remarks, “We are grateful for the opportunity to help Kôr with its mission to bring environmental sustainability into affordable housing and help make homeownership an opportunity for more of the people that make Bend such a special place to live.”
Ten Over Studio will be working closely on the project as a partial in-kind donor with the intent to promote design that benefits the community and connects people to their surroundings while leaving a minimal environmental footprint. The community will include seven single-family homes, each designed with three bedrooms and two bathrooms with goal net-zero standards. The units will be permanently affordable through the Community Land Trust model, serving the community’s affordable housing needs for generations.
Kôr Community Land Trust and Housing Works was also recently selected by Deschutes County to purchase and develop the 7.12 acres at 19755 Simpson Avenue into affordable housing. The innovative partnership between the local public housing authority, Housing Works, and Kôr will bring 110 new homes to the west side of Bend providing both rental housing and home ownership opportunities that will remain permanently affordable for generations.
Housing Works will develop the parcels east of 18th Street into 68 apartments and 12 townhomes available for rent to households earning less than 60 percent AMI. Kôr Community Land Trust will utilize the westernmost parcel to build 30 for sale goal net-zero single-family homes for households earning between 65-80 percent AMI.
The initial site plans, designed by Pinnacle Architecture for the rental units and Ten Over Studios for the homeownership units, presents an equitable approach to the site, its neighboring community and the natural landscape and existing treescape.