Clover Court Update No. 7
Sponsored by: Housing Services Department
Board Approves Transfer of County-owned Property to Expand Supply of Affordable Housing
The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on July 25th to transfer 1.29 acres of county-owned property to Luke-Dorf, Inc., for the public purpose of creating six affordable apartments for homeless individuals facing mental health challenges through a project called "Clover Court."
The County has maintained a practice since the 1990s of periodically transferring surplus county land to housing providers as a cost-effective way to address the growing need for affordable homes. Over 14,000 households with low or extremely low incomes are thought to need housing in Washington County, a number that has grown significantly since the economic recovery began earlier this decade. The Board action is also in keeping with County's "Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness," specifically regarding the various housing needs among those struggling with mental illness.
At the Board of Commissioners meeting, representatives from Luke-Dorf briefed Board members about the array of housing needs for those facing mental illness and the particular niche that the Clover Court proposal was intended to fill. Unlike other forms of housing for those receiving addiction treatment or in need of 24-hour supervision, the Clover Court proposal is intended to help individuals who are at a point in their recovery from mental illness where independent living would be possible. The stable housing provided by homes like those at Clover Court would represent a step towards permanently ending homelessness for these individuals. Housing solutions similar to the Clover Court proposal have succeeded throughout the nation, including in the Portland area.
Luke-Dorf representatives also briefed the County Board on the assessment process that will focus on applicants demonstrating their ability to live independently despite their mental health diagnosis. A multi-tiered screening process will ensure that these tenants:
- Have no prior history of sexual offenses
- Have no felony convictions as determined through a criminal background check
- Do not have an active substance addiction
Once occupancy begins as planned in the spring or summer of 2019, Luke-Dorf intends to assist tenants in gaining access to supportive services tailored to each tenant's needs. Clinical services could include:
- Case management
- Individual and group therapy
- Psychiatric evaluation and medication management
- Housing and employment assistance
- Skills training and peer delivered services
Luke-Dorf and Washington County officials have been working with the neighboring community throughout the year to provide answers to questions and to address concerns, including a community meeting in February, informational workshops regarding mental illness and periodic emails and website updates. Although not required to do so, County Commissioners heard testimony from 25 members of the public, both in favor and in opposition to the Clover Court proposal, before taking action on the transfer.
As the development process begins for the Clover Court project, additional public input will be sought regarding the project's compliance with Washington County's land use requirements, beginning with a neighborhood meeting hosted by Luke-Dorf to be scheduled later this summer. The purpose of the neighborhood meeting will be to present the proposed development plan and answer questions from nearby residents about the plan.
Once the development application is submitted by Luke-Dorf and reviewed by the Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation, notification of a public hearing before an independent hearings officer will be sent to every property owner within 500 feet of the Clover Court site. The purpose of the hearing will be to review whether the proposed development is in compliance with the applicable land use rules and issue a decision regarding the development application. As indicated in the graphic summary, the process includes three distinct opportunities for public input. Under county rules, the entire land use approval process for the development application must conclude within 120 days of the application being accepted as complete. Once permits are issued, Luke-Dorf will be able to begin construction, possibly by the summer of 2018.
Washington County has a long-standing policy through which the Board of Commissioners may transfer ownership of surplus property to the County Housing Authority and to non-profit organizations that create and manage affordable homes. This is one way the county tries to address the critical shortage of affordable housing and to leverage additional resources to prevent homelessness.
Washington County's approach has been to work together with community partners to address this crisis following the "Housing First" model for ending homelessness. Housing First is a nation-wide strategy that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible, and then providing voluntary supportive services as needed, to ensure that families and individuals do not cycle back into homelessness.
Washington County, along with the rest of the Portland area, is suffering from an affordable housing crisis that disproportionately impacts those with low incomes and mental illness. The County is currently working through "Year 10" of a "10-Year Plan to End Homelessness." Although great strides have been made, Washington County still lacks over 14,000 housing units for low and extremely low income residents to accommodate this great need.
More information can be found at the Clover Court Proposal webpage.
Media Contact:Julie McCloud, Public & Govt. Affairs Assistant