Tribal Government & News
Tribe hoping to break ground on home ownership project this fall
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals staff writer
The Tribe is getting closer to having a new housing development for its membership.
After contracts are approved by the Tribe’s attorneys and then Tribal Council, Housing Department officials are hoping to break ground on the 86-acre Rink 2 property east of Grand Meadows manufactured home subdivision by August or September.
“At this point, we are gathering an interested list of Tribal members,” Tribal Housing Department Manager Shonn Leno said. “We are awaiting an infrastructure contract and one for a builder, financer and designer partnership. So then a Tribal member can go through the process from qualifying for a loan to having a home built.”
Leno declined to comment on which companies were selected until the contracts have been finalized.
It’s been 23 years since Grand Meadows, located on Tribal property at McPherson and Grand Ronde roads, opened a 36-lot manufactured home subdivision to Tribal families. Housing Department officials say a second development is long overdue.
In 2020, Reece and Associates of Albany was selected to conduct a property development plan for the new site. The first phase will have 20 single-family homes on 10,000-square-foot lots.
The Tribe’s current housing options typically have occupation rates of 94 percent or higher, and lack of available market-rate homes has been a sticking point in Tribal members moving to Grand Ronde and working in the community.
Leno and Housing Administrative Program Manager Joan Dugger said that new home ownership opportunities will help fill a void in the local housing market. The Tribe currently offers low-income housing, market-rate rental units and Elder housing. The home ownership piece will fill that void where a person can buy their own house and move out of a rental, which also creates room for other renters.
According to the 2020 Housing Department annual report, it operates 61 low-income Elder units, 100 rental housing low-income units and 36 market-rate units.
Before the Housing Department began actively pursuing home ownership, a survey was sent out in June and July of 2019. Out of 222 Tribal members who answered the question regarding whether they were interested in buying land and building a home in Grand Ronde, 142 said yes. Of those, 69 indicated they would be interested in leasing land and building a home, and 71 said they are interested in buying a home and have the financial resources to do so. Thirty people were re-interviewed over the phone.
The survey also found that the most popular new home option would be stick-built homes and the most popular lot size was between a half-acre to an acre.
The Housing Department used the survey results to determine a target population for the phase one housing development and found there were 20 families that were ready to buy whenever housing became available, and that they were willing to go through the pre-qualification process to obtain a loan.
Dugger says all loans will have to be made through the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Program, which is a federal program specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska villages, Tribes or Tribally designated housing entities. Congress established the program in 1992 to increase homeownership and access in Native communities. With Section 184 financing, borrowers can get into a home with a low down payment and flexible underwriting.
A price point for homes has not been set. The Housing Department is hoping to have multiple plans to suit a variety of budgets.
For more information or to be added to the interested list of Tribal members, contact Leno at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 503-879-2397.