Business & economy, In the community

River Bend Place in Ontario opens with a waiting list of tenants

ONTARIO – When the former Presbyterian Community Care Center closed its doors, 56 new ones opened.
On Friday, Northwest Housing Alternatives hosted the grand opening for River Bend Place, the new Ontario affordable housing development. Housing advocates, elected officials, and community members gathered in the blue and orange breezeway of the new housing complex. The breezeway looked out onto a freshly landscaped courtyard, surrounded by doorways.

“Housing is a tremendous issue throughout my district,” said state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, during his speech at the grand opening. Findley thanked the city of Ontario and Northwest Housing Alternatives for “stepping up to the plate and answering the call.”

“This is a neighborhood that is going to be transformed,” said Findley.

State Rep. Mark Owens (left), Ontario City Councilor Ken Hart and state Sen. Lynn Findley shovel during the grand opening of River Bend Place, a 56-unit affordable housing development by Northwest Housing Alternatives, in Ontario on July 15, 2022. (The Enterprise/CYNTHIA LIU)

The development will impact the community substantially. Kristy Rodriguez, executive director of Housing Authority of Malheur and Harney Counties, said that there are over 100 applicants on the waiting list to live at River Bend Place.

“There are more people that are in desperate need of housing than the stock of housing available,” said Rodriguez. Fifty-six applicants will be granted a unit. The development includes a range of housing options from studios to one- and two-bedroom units. Its purpose is to provide housing for individuals and families for between $377 to $970 per month. That is in Malheur County where, according to Oregon Housing and Community Services, the average rent was over $1,600 a month in 2016.

River Bend Place features a large community room, smaller conference rooms, a telemedicine center sponsored by Ore-gon Health Authority, and soon play-ground equipment. Since Northwest Housing Alternatives bought the property at 998 Fortner Street in 2018, real estate developer Clayton Crowhurst said, “It started to become a little clearer that this building could have a second life.”

The property is in a central location in Ontario, blocks from Beck-Kiwanis Park and the Snake River.

The site also has plans to provide easy accessibility to other resources through partnerships with Oregon Food Bank, Valley Family Health Care and others. Within the next five years, the space will become a campus with a food hub that provides affordable access to healthy food as well as nutrition education, health care and more.

“To anybody that is involved, whether you’re a service provider, whether you’re a contractor, whether you’re working on the financing, or all the micro details that make this possible, know that it is not easy. It is far, far, far from easy. And I just want to acknowledge and appreciate that collective partnership and collective work,” said Andrea Bell, executive director of the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, during her speech.

The opening of River Bend Place represents one of the largest residential construction projects Malheur County has ever seen. Funding for River Bend Place was obtained by Northwest Housing Alternatives through support from the state housing agency, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, the National Equity Fund, Oregon Health Authority, Roundhouse Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Network for Oregon Affordable Hous-ing and Euvalcree, which will be supporting the Riv-er Bend Place community through their resident services.

“I know this strong collaboration will be key to ensuring the best environment for our families,” said Yesenia Hernandez, resident services coordinator at River Bend Place.

To inquire about leasing, contact Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp. at [email protected] or 541-823-5048.

Oregon State Representative Mark Owens addresses the crowd at the grand opening of River Bend Place, a 56-unit affordable housing development at 998 Fortner St. in Ontario on July 15, 2022. (The Enterprise/CYNTHIA LIU)