Oregon Housing and Community Services awards $20M for affordable housing

OREGON — Oregon Housing and Community Services announced $20 million for affordable housing production in Oregon.

According to a press release from the Oregon State Legislature, this money is part of the Housing Bill 2001 passed by the legislature in 2023. The intention of this bill is to take immediate action in response to the housing crisis and to plan for future housing productions.

Representative Pam Marsh says this grant funding is huge for Oregon. “Well, I think it’s a big win. We understand that we have to do something completely different in order to spur housing on the ground. And it’s been clear that modular housing, that is factory-built housing elements, could be part of the story.”

OHCS awarded the funds in the forms of four $5 million grants, two of which have been designated for Southern Oregon. Pacific Wall Systems in Phoenix and InteliFab LLC in Klamath Falls were selected out of 17 candidates.

Alex Knecht, owner and vice president of Pacific Wall Systems says his company can do a lot to help the housing crisis. “There’s definitely a need for this type of component manufacturing to where it speeds up the job site and lessens the cost,” Knecht said. “What little money it was, it’s actually not a lot of money dispersed for this, will go a long way with us.”

Though we couldn’t get in touch with InteliFab LLC, they have a statement on their website which reads in part,

InteliFab has developed an automated factory to construct prefabricated and modular building components and buildings, to both help address the declining availability of site-built tradespeople with pre-built solutions, and to bring factory level speed, efficiency and quality to the construction industry.

Marsh says the state originally started looking into modular homes with the Royal Oaks project. She says they’ve learned a lot from that project. “We need an Oregon modular housing industry because we ordered modulars for that park from out of state, we didn’t have quality control, they aren’t acceptable. We never want to see that experience again.”

She says having Oregon’s own industry and building codes eyes on it will allow them to create high-quality places for people to live long term. The state also wants to make sure they create an environment where the modular industry can be successful.

“We certainly have to look at funding. But we also need to look upstream at how we’re actually developing housing and realize that not every house has to be built with a hammer and nails.”

There’s also an agreement with these companies for the next 10 years that if the state runs into a disaster and they need housing, the state’s projects will be prioritized.

“Way back in February when we were, I was proposing that $20 million in the emergency fund, I had a vague hope that we would see some of this money come to Southern Oregon. I’m just thrilled that it’s turning out that way,” added Marsh.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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