A new apartment complex is coming to Hermiston in the spring of 2020.

Northwest Housing Alternatives has broken ground on a 48-unit complex at 605 S.E. Sixth St. and 605 S.E. Seventh St. across from Cottonwood Apartments. Construction is expected to last for about a year.

The new complex, known as Hermiston Family Housing, will be affordable housing available to residents making 60% of the area’s median income.

Hermiston’s housing market has been tight in recent years as growth outpaces development, and the city has made several efforts to remove barriers to development through initiatives, such as adjustments to zoning and setback requirements.

City planner Clint Spencer said the NHA project has been “in the pipeline” for about three years now, so he couldn’t credit those new initiatives. But the new complex will benefit Hermiston nonetheless.

“It’s definitely going to help add some options for families,” he said.

He said the Hermiston Family Housing project had been slow to get off the ground due to problems working out the financing. One thing that has kept developers from adding apartment complexes to Hermiston in recent years, he said, is that single-family housing has remained affordable enough that developers find they would need to charge rents that would compare to the cost of a mortgage.

In order to make the Hermiston Family Housing complex pencil out, NHA is building the project in conjunction with a new complex in Portland to create greater economies of scale and open up better financing options for the Hermiston project. Both projects are being designed and built by MWA Architects and Walsh Construction.

“Northwest Housing Alternatives is thrilled to pilot this innovative project that will allow rural communities to access new funding models by pairing it with an urban project for scale,” NHA executive director Trell Anderson said in a statement. “We hope this effort will pave the way for more projects like this that are desperately needed in Oregon’s rural communities.”

According to an NHA news release, funding for the Portland and Hermiston projects came from Oregon Housing and Community Service’s LIFT program and the Multifamily Energy Program, Metro’s Transit Oriented Development Program, and private funding from Chase Bank and Raymond James Tax Credits Funds.

Northwest Housing Alternatives already owns and operates the Cottonwood Apartments in Hermiston, located adjacent to the construction site. The nonprofit, which works to increase affordable housing options around the state, will have the managers of Cottonwood manage the Hermiston Family Housing project once they open.

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