On September 1, 2021, the Bend City Council adopted a resolution that will help move forward an innovative affordable housing pilot program. A lack of affordable housing has been a problem in many Oregon communities for years, and numerous state and local initiatives have been undertaken to address the problem. One such initiative was HB 4079 (2016), which authorized the Land Conservation and Development Commission to choose two cities in Oregon for an urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion to promote affordable housing. Normally, UGB expansions take years of planning and approvals, and are almost always caught up in a lengthy appeals process. HB 4079 created an expedited UGB expansion process for the purposes of the pilot project as long as the chosen cities dedicate at least 30 percent of the new housing as affordable, and protects it as affordable for 50 years. Ultimately, Bend and Redmond were selected for the pilot program.
Bend’s pilot project site is 35 acres located on the eastern border of its UGB. It was approved by the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) in August of 2019. Since it was approved, the property was sold by the original developer to Hayden Homes, a Redmond homebuilder. Hayden intends to participate in the pilot project and has proposed 345 units of housing, with 138 units qualifying as affordable under the rules of the pilot program. Hayden Homes operates a nonprofit arm that builds affordable housing, and so can actually develop both the affordable and market-rate housing on the property. This minimizes the risk inherent in having a builder for the market-rate housing and a different builder for the affordable housing. Hayden Homes will also minimize the external subsidy needed for the project. The tradeoff under this new agreement, as acknowledged by the City Council, is that not all of the homes considered affordable under the pilot project will meet Bend’s definition of affordable housing. Even so, there is substantial demand in Bend for not only traditional affordable housing, but also housing that is just above the traditional affordability threshold, i.e., middle-income housing. The proposal will provide both. The newly adopted resolution and revised concept plan for the pilot project will now move on to the DLCD for approval.