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Local Partnership Fosters Sustainable, Affordable, Livable Communities in Oregon

A volunteer crew helps construct a home in rural Oregon through the USDA Self Help Program.

A volunteer crew helps construct a home in rural Oregon through the USDA Self Help Program.

This month, one of our long-time and valued partners, Umpqua Community Development Corporation (CDC)—soon to be known as Neighborworks Umpqua—in Southwest Oregon, celebrates its 20th anniversary. It is fitting for this special event to occur during National Homeownership Month, since Umpqua CDC has partnered with USDA Rural Development on numerous affordable housing efforts, as well as economic development projects. This work has had a direct and profound impact on the livability, sustainability and economy of communities here in Southwest Oregon.

This work includes four Self Help Housing developments, where low-income residents help construct their new homes in order to offset roughly 65 percent of the costs.  For each development, Umpqua CDC found a building site, coordinated with contractors, outreached to potential homebuyers, provided them training and program assistance, and coordinated with USDA. USDA Rural Development then provided the homeowners with low-interest direct home loans. Together, through the Mutual Self Help Housing Program, USDA Rural Development and Umpqua CDC have assisted 26 families working to achieve the dream of homeownership.

Last year, Umpqua leveraged a $65,000 USDA Housing Preservation Grant with other sources of funding for housing repair and rehabilitation for 25 very-low income families. Also, on the home repair front, Umpqua has been a key, on-the-ground partner informing the public about other home repair assistance available through Rural Development funding channels.

With regard to multi-family housing, we also partnered with Umpqua on two developments:  Hillside Terrace in Coquille and Jefferson Park in Cottage Grove. Umpqua manages these properties, which provide affordable housing for 93 families.

In 2007, Umpqua Community Development applied a Rural Development Community Facilities loan of $500,000 toward the construction of their Heartwood ReSources retail facility. Through Heartwood Resources, reclaimed building materials are recycled and sold to the public. This helps lower income families afford home rehabilitation and improvement supplies while keeping tons of material out of local landfills.

Also, from 2007 to 2010, Umpqua CDC was awarded four different Rural Business Enterprise Grants to assist in their efforts to encourage local business development and economic activity. These projects include small business technical assistance in Myrtle Point and Oakland; the “Think Local Umpqua” food guide; the South Douglas County Main Street Market Analysis; and the Food Enterprise Expansion in Douglas County (otherwise known as the FEEDCo project) to help local food entrepreneurs improve business knowledge, increase local food sales, foster expansion into the larger regional market, and build a more profitable, resilient agricultural sector.

The projects mentioned above show you that Umpqua CDC has been hard at work leveraging resources in the local community. And those are just the projects they did in partnership USDA Rural Development!

Umpqua CDC is one of a number of terrific organizations operating in Oregon that comprehensively embrace all facets of building sustainable, livable communities. It is strategic, locally oriented partnerships like this that make our USDA Rural Development programs work for local communities.

To learn more about how USDA homeownership programs can help you meet your goals, click here.

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