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New affordable housing project in the works

ASTORIA — A proposal by the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority could increase the amount of affordable housing in Astoria available to seniors and people with disabilities.

The NOHA hopes to add to the existing Owens Adair affordable housing complex on 15th and Duane Street, essentially creating a mirror image of the building to add around 50 housing units. This Owens Adair Annex would be four stories tall with a parking basement counting as one of the stories.

The housing authority anticipates that most future residents would be seniors and people with disabilities who earn 30 to 50 percent of the area median income. Many of them are already on wait lists for housing with NOHA.

The annex project is estimated to cost around $22.6 million.

Wendy Klein, a development consultant with Community Development Partners, was part of a group that presented the project to the Astoria City Council during a work session last week. She described the new annex as “a modern version of the existing Owens Adair”

The housing authority is not asking for any aid from the city to get the project going, but will need city approval on some aspects of the project. For instance, the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission will review plans and materials to ensure compatibility with city standards.

Fresh off a decision to abandon a contentious workforce and affordable housing project proposed at Heritage Square farther west on Duane Street, the Astoria City Council voiced enthusiastic support for the Owens Adair project.

“Obviously our affordable housing needs are huge and across the whole spectrum of income,” Mayor Bruce Jones said.

The project won’t address the lack of workforce housing options in the area. But, Jones added, “it does tackle that one slice for seniors and folks needing the permanent supportive housing and low income housing. That’s critical to addressing shortfalls in other areas. Just by providing housing for one segment you’re freeing up housing in other segments.”

The housing authority is applying for state financial help by the end of this month, which will determine how quickly the project might move forward. Construction could begin as early as next summer if all goes to plan and residents could begin to move in by September 2024.

If the housing authority is not successful in its funding requests, Nina Reed, NOHA board chair, says they will try again next year.