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MORRISON Park, home to a disc golf course, minimally-improved trails and picnic areas, has become hotly-contested property.

A setback, with two others pending, has hit the affordable housing plans for Lot 700 by City of Hood River and the Gorge housing authority. Oregon Housing and Community Services (OCHS) has announced that the Hood River project has been denied a share of the current round of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), a key funding piece to the project. According to project opponent Susan Crowley, this is the second denial from the state for this project. “I continue to be hopeful that these setbacks to the project will encourage them to direct their efforts to other properties,” said Crowley, who has submitted a pending appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals of the city’s decision to rezone a portion of Lot 700 to make way for affordable housing. She said the appeal will probably need another five-six months before LUBA is expected to make a decision. Another possible obstacle to the project is the initiative petition submitted last month that would require an initiative measure to protect city parks, filed by Hood River residents Brian Towey and Tracey Tamashpol. Council will consider the question in its meeting Monday, 6 p.m. at City Hall. “The decision from OHCS is certainly not the one we were hoping for,” said Joel Madsen, executive director of Mid-Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation (CCHC). “An element of our assessment is working to identify whether or not this funding source is the most viable and whether or not there are other sources of capital that can bring this development to fruition.” LIHTC is the federal government’s primary program for encouraging the investment of private equity in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households. Since its creation in 1986, the LIHTC has helped to finance more than 2.4 million affordable rental-housing units for low-income households “Often times we apply two, three or more times for funding before being awarded these oversubscribed resources,” Madsen said. “We will need some time to reassess our investment proposal and the path forward on this development in light of this funding decision.” The city has 30 days, from June 24, to either adopt the initiative or place it on the ballot. If approved by voters, the initiative will amend the Hood River City Charter to require a public vote before the city can dispose of any designated city park. “The county has about two acres of land next to the Columbia Crossing development specifically earmarked for low income housing. Perhaps they will consider that as an option,” Crowley said. She suggested the city and CCHC look into state funding sources to assist cities with land purchases for low income housing. Madsen said that in March, his agency submitted an investment proposal to OHCS requesting federal and state resources for the development of 65 rent restricted apartment homes in Hood River. Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announced funding awards to build and preserve affordable homes through the awards of federal nine percent LIHTC, HOME and National Housing Trust fund resources, which leverage local, state and private investments. While 11 developments were approved for funding this round, CCHC’s proposal for the Hood River development was not approved. Madsen said, “An added complexity that has arisen since we submitted our investment proposal to OHCS is the citizen initiative that has been shepherded, in part, by those in opposition to affordable rental housing development on Lot 700 (a portion of Morrison Park). “We are sensitive to this initiative potentially having detrimental impacts on the ability to develop affordable housing in Hood River,” Madsen said. “While we need some time to assess the recent decision related to our initial funding strategy for the development of 65 rent restricted apartment homes targeted to lower income households, we also have a sense of urgency for determining the appropriate path forward. “We need time to assess our situation and the appropriate path forward in light of this funding decision, the Crowley appeal and looming initiative that could negatively impact the ability to develop affordable rental housing in Hood River for lower income households,” Madsen said. He added that the OHCS funding that is has been available, historically, annually through a Notice of Funding Availability at OHCS.

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