Business, Community

Wyden: Low-cost housing not a bridge too far 

SPRINGFIELD – While Eugene recently hosted Democratic Party luminaries Senators Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley and retiring Representative Peter DeFazio, Springfield also enjoyed an audience with a political heavyweight as Senator Ron Wyden made an appearance at Hayden Bridge Landing to tout affordable housing solutions.

Wyden is an affordable housing champion and recently co-sponsored legislation to allow state and local governments to use Coronavirus fiscal recovery funds to make long-term loans to affordable housing developments.

The site of Wyden’s visit, Hayden Bridge Landing, opened last year and includes 12 residential buildings and one community building with both townhouse and flat-style units. The residential portion of the site will total approximately 72,000 square feet and house more than 100 individuals, including nine families displaced by the Holiday Farm Fire.

Jacob Fox, the executive director of Homes for Good, which created and runs Hayden Bridge Landing, told the assembled crowd that, “without Senator Wyden’s support, we would not be able to build this facility. It’s the largest project Homes for Good has ever done and low interest tax credits (which Wyden helped secure at the federal level) were a major part of this project’s success.”

For his part, Wyden underlined his goal of making it much easier for people to get into homes. “I’m working hard to expand the low interest tax credit so that more and more low- and middle-income housing can be built here and through the country,” said Wyden.

Fox of Homes for Good explained how the organization used low-income housing tax credits for this development and that the average rent at Hayden Bridge Landing is about $330 per month. “We create opportunities for low-income families by using federal and local dollars so a family can live in a place like this for $330 per month versus the going rate of $2,500 per month in similar complexes in our community.”

Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon was also at the event and lauded Homes for Good as an organization that met the challenge head-on. “The story of Homes for Good was that they always asked what else they could do, and they did such a great job making this a place where more and more people could live.”

In his further comments, Wyden praised the community for its diligence in finding solutions to affordable housing. “Lane County is really a can-do community for creating housing opportunities,” he said. “That this project was built in the eye of the pandemic is such a great example of that can-do spirit.”

Wyden also took the opportunity to let the community know that he plans to do even more in the Senate to help make housing more affordable. “Starting in what is called the lame-duck session of Congress, I will be working to push through new opportunities for middle-income people to purchase their first home.” 

Toward the end of the event, Wyden introduced Gary Meili, principal of Meili Construction in Eugene, to address how he and his team built Hayden Bridge Landing under such difficult circumstances.

Meili humbly explained that it was a true team effort. “I stand here, and I look around and think it is wonderful that people have new homes, and we were a part of it.  And even more so, working with the amazing partners to do this during a pandemic was truly special. We had a purpose and a mission, and the pandemic wasn’t going to stop us.”

Wyden added that, “it’s important to remember how hard it was during the height of the pandemic, and it was amazing that Meili Construction was able to get through all the red tape to actually build it. And make no mistake, I’m going to tell the story of this community on the floor of the United States Senate.”  

Wyden also told the gathering that he’ll consider asking the Federal Reserve to take a 90-day pause on raising interest rates.

“A 90-day pause would give some relief to developers like my friend here,” said Wyden, gesturing to Gary Meili. “But it would also give the Federal Reserve the chance to go back and look at the effects in the last few months of raising interest rates.”



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