July 13, 2024

Housing Finance Development

It's Your Housing Finance Development

Oregon Developers Seek to House Zomi Refugees| Housing Finance Magazine

Construction of The Lawrence in the Glenfair neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, is expected to conclude by August 2023.
Doug Circosta
Construction of The Lawrence in the Glenfair neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, is expected to conclude by August 2023.

Home First Development and Green Light Development are partnering on a new affordable housing community in Portland, Oregon.

While these two Portland-based affordable housing developers have previously collaborated, this community—to be called The Lawrence—represents the first development stemming from their joint effort to create a scalable, replicable model for quality affordable housing for underserved communities.

With the new development, Home First and Green Light share a desire to serve Portland’s Zomi refugees—a mostly Christian ethnic minority group fleeing religious persecution in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India and living in extreme poverty—and are partnering with Zomi Catholic Community (ZCC), a refugee-led nonprofit. ZCC is helping to design shared community spaces that will meet the needs of the refugees and will offer ongoing services once the property opens. Additional groups providing referrals and services include Catholic Charities, Providence Health, St. Joseph Hospital, and Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.

The Lawrence will provide 96 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units of income-restricted affordable family housing. The 2.18-acre site will include five garden-style buildings, each with three stories. Ten units will be restricted to households earning 30% or less of the area median income (AMI); the remaining 86 will be for households between 50% and 60% of the AMI. Residents will receive supportive services including case management, health care support, and disability services from All Good NW, which will have offices on site.

KeyBank Community Development Lending and Investment is providing $20.9 million in financing for the approximately $25 million development.

In addition to the tax-exempt and taxable debt financing structured by Brett Sheehan and Keven Ruf of KeyBank, the project is receiving funds from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) rental housing program and the city of Portland, as well as a 4% tax credit equity investment by CREA. KeyBank also purchased Oregon state housing tax credits and committed to providing a permanent loan with a reduced interest rate supported by the credits. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place in early June, followed by the unveiling nearby of the Bria, a 116-unit Home First affordable development also funded by KeyBank and 4% tax credit equity by CREA.