Cost of materials forces trade-offs with affordable housing

The former Presbyterian Care Center, pictured here at 1085 N. Oregon St., has been purchased by Northwest Housing Alternatives, non-profit affordable housing developer out of Oak Grove, which initially proposed to turn the site into about 60 housing units. 


Clayton Crowhurst, housing developer with Northwest Housing Alternatives, an organization that provides “affordable housing options for families, seniors and people with special needs across Oregon” took the time to explain how the rising cost of materials, like lumber, are having an impact on affordable housing projects locally and across the state in a phone interview on April 22.

The nonprofit affordable housing developer out of Oak Grove is planning to break ground on two new housing developments in 2021, which will be bringing 126 new apartments to Ontario, according to previous information from Crowhurst.

One of these is the former Presbyterian Care Center, which was being considered for affordable housing for Ontario. The property has been purchased by Northwest Housing Alternatives, which initially proposed to turn the site into about 60 housing units.

Crowhurst said that the “huge lumber cost increases” are something that he has seen affecting construction projects in terms of forcing compromises on the properties themselves, some amenities simply cannot be included in order to compensate for the rising costs.

He said that it has been “very scary” to deal with those cost increases and as a result, he said that he has had to ask whether it’s “sustainable” to try and make a project happen.

“Regardless of how much lumber costs, you have to pay for it,” Crowhurst said.

He said the he likes to get the information out to the community that his organization, in some cases, has had to make a lot of alterations to the original plans in order to make the finished product happen in terms of dealing with cost.

“When I hear a story about the economy, a week later, I deal with it,” Crowhurst said.

He followed up this information with additional numbers relating to his housing projects.

“I experienced almost $1.5 Million in cost increases from January to March of this year and I’ve only recently been able to get back to a balanced budget after making some pretty difficult choices on what to leave in the project and what to take out,” wrote Crowhurst.

He goes on to say how he has noticed that affordable housing projects across the state have had to reevaluate “feasibility” during the development phase due to the “unpredictable increases” in costs.

Some of the amenities that Crowhurst notes include landscaping, playgrounds and other “site furnishing.”

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