[Photo 1: Two story house being built]
Just about ready.

BEND, OREGON - "N.S.P." At first glance, those initials might stand for "not so promising." But in central Oregon that would be a long way from the truth.

There N.S.P. stands for HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. During tough times all around for homebuyers and homebuilders, NSP has offered something very promising, indeed.

Promising, for example, because it's a program first launched by a Republican President - George W. Bush - and carried forward two more times by a Democratic one - Barack Obama. Promising, too, because it's demonstrated that the idea of having a place you can call your own remains as alive and well and as much a part of the American Dream as, yep, baseball, motherhood and apple pie.

Like the rest of Oregon, Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties have been hard hit by the Great Recession. Lots of unemployment, homelessness, abandoned or foreclosed homes. Slowly but surely, NSP is changing that. Central Oregon's received $6.4 million in NSP funds. But HUD's partners in the area - like the cities of Bend and Redmond and Housing Works, the local housing authority - have made prudent use of the funds to put the life back into some 75 parcels and properties

Like Shady Pine Lane in Bend, a city of 80,000. Shady Pine Lane is a 10-lot subdivision planned in the boom years but stalled when the housing market went bust. But now, thanks to the City and the non-profit Building Partners for Affordable Housing, it's back on track. NSP funds were used to acquire the lots while construction is being financed through a zero-percent loan from the City's Affordable Housing Fund. That's cut carrying cost for the builder and, purchase prices for buyers. The project also won a Department of Energy grants to install solar water heaters and ductless heating.

[Photo 2: Completed two story house]
Ready to move in.

Four homes, no surprise, already have been sold to families with incomes at or less than 120 percent area median income. Another three homes are under construction, with two already in the process of being pre-sold. And, says the Central Oregon Builders Association, it's put some 270 construction tradespeople back to work. "In 25 years of working in affordable housing," commented the City's housing manager Jim Long, "this is one of the more fun projects I have been involved with."

They're also having "fun" with NSP in Redmond, a city of 25,000 just 15 miles west of Bend. It's completed a number of NSP projects. Like Independence House, on 27th Street that, says Housing Works' Keith Wooden, "used to look like many other foreclosed homes - dead landscaping, missing doors and fixtures, half-completed remodeling projects." Not anymore. Using NSP funds, Housing Works acquired and rehabbed the duplex and now rents it to veterans.

And, working with the City of Redmond, Housing Works has just embarked an even more ambitious NSP project – buying the 19-unit Fairhaven Vista Townhomes. "The key objective," Redmond City Manager David Brandt explained to The Bend Bulletin, "is to revitalize a neighborhood that had quite frankly grown too fast in the boom years and had been left to ruin in the succeeding bust years. We are doing our best to make that right."

"This is what NSP is about. The demand for quality, affordable rental housing has increased significantly," Housing Works Executive Director Cyndy Cook told The Bulletin. "We are ensuring that families have quality, affordable housing throughout the region, and we are a part of a real opportunity to bring strength to Redmond's recovery."

In fact, the work NSP's done in Central Oregon and across the country has served as the model for his $1.5 billion Rebuild America program he included in the Jobs Bill that President Obama proposed to Congress. The reasons simple - NSP is a government program that not only makes promises, but keeps them. Just ask the folks in Central Oregon.


Content Archived: December 23, 2013