MIKE EYSTER/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Tim Olguin has traveled from California to Oregon, like many before him. His vision, and journey, is unlike any other, however, Olguin remade his career to help people in need of low-income housing.

Meet Tim Olguin, educator, affordable housing advocate, homebuilder, and entrepreneur.

 In 2005, Tim was an elementary teacher in Southern California. Since then, he has been a tutor, a tax preparer, a banker, and now a builder, an owner, and an operator of affordable housing.

As a tax preparer and banker, Tim recognized the possibility of earning a living building and owning homes while offering renters an affordable place to live. In 2018, Tim enrolled in a series of construction technology courses at LCC where he learned how to build houses. While taking the classes Olguin and his spouse Betty purchased a piece of land on which to build three rental units. Olguin invited his classmates to gain some hands-on experience with his project, guided by LCC construction technology Professor Paul Rea.

Olguin’s classmates were able to participate in the early stages of construction. In the middle of his work on the rental units, restrictions resulting from the pandemic suddenly made in-person classes impossible. Olguin, and Rea, made a number of videos of various phases of construction, which Rea used to help him teach, as LCC moved to virtual classes (sample video: youtube.com/watch?v=47UWlyrfuwY). 

Timing was also right.

Just as Olguin was working on his project, Springfield adopted a cutting-edge policy to encourage development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The goal of the policy was to: (1) Increase the availability of housing; (2) Encourage more compact development. The policy provided financial incentives Olguin was able to benefit from, including permitting him to build more densely on his land than he would have been able to otherwise. Tim passed those savings on to renters by offering his units at below-market rates.

I met Olguin while on a neighborhood walk as he was building his houses at 4th and D streets in Springfield in 2020. As I spoke with Tim, I realized that in just a few short years, he went from being an elementary school teacher to being a banker, to being an affordable-housing developer and entrepreneur.

His work integrated his interest in education, providing affordable housing, and contributing to denser development that reduces dependence on fossil fuel, builds community, and contributes to more efficient use of infrastructure and land. 

I wrote about him because he is an example of the enterprising spirit that permeates Springfield. Olguin is one of those people who discovered a niche that was waiting for a courageous, creative, and hard-working soul. Congratulations, Tim. Thank you for your work that makes Springfield special.

Mike Eyster serves as the President of the Springfield Renaissance Development Corporation (SRDC), and formerly served as the Board Chair of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.