By Jessica Debbas
EUGENE, Ore. — St. Vincent de Paul is breaking ground on a new affordable housing project in Eugene this week.
The development will create 54 units for low-income residents.
The official groundbreaking ceremony is on Friday, but crews are already digging into a field on the east side of City View Street.
“The need for affordable housing doesn’t seem to be slowing down. We have about 700 people on our waiting list,” McDonald said.
That waiting list is full of people who make 50 percent less than the median income in Eugene.
St. Vincent de Paul designed the three-story Stellar Apartments development with affordability in mind.
“Very, very thick insulation. This is a technique on insulated housing we see a lot in Europe and back east, but we haven’t seen it in Oregon,” McDonald said.
Planners say the goal is to save energy and lower utility costs.
They say it’s just another positive aspect of the design, much liked plans to set aside units for veterans.
“As a veteran, I think it’s great because a lot of times we get kind of passed over,” said neighbor Ashley Hanson.
A member of the military who owns a home across the street from the new development, Hanson sees the project as a benefit to his community.
“There’s a school with here so families can have their kids right there, and it’s worked well in other places in Eugene,” Hanson said.
But other residents aren’t sold on the idea. They worry this new low-income crowd could bring in problems they say they already see at an apartment complex next door.
“I see enough drug interaction coming out of the apartments, and really quite frankly, I think it’s going to bring more,” said neighbor Leila Cowles.
But St. Vincent de Paul managers argue turning the empty space into affordable homes is a much needed reality.
“Just making a living in these difficult times to remember that affordable housing is really the core to what makes a community great,” McDonald said.
This project is expected to be finished so new tenants can move in the summer of 2013.
St. Vincent de Paul will open up the waiting list three months before that.
Picture courtesy of St. Vincent de Paul.