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The City of Sutherlin is pioneering a workforce housing concept, with the help of a $2.85 million state grant

A pencil sketch of a housing community
City of Sutherlin
Lynch said this sketch is by no means final, but represents the components the city would like to include in the development.

The City of Sutherlin is moving forward with a project meant to expand housing options in the Douglas County community. A $2.85 million grant from the state will pay for infrastructure on a 10-acre site near downtown, which the city has under contract.

Livability Services Director Patrick Lynch told KLCC that Sutherlin is among Oregon’s fastest growing towns, but "we're running out of housing and looking for a way to correct that."

He added, "The last HUD figure we looked at had our vacancy rate for rental dwellings in Sutherlin at zero.” Lynch said it's difficult for employers, schools, and medical facilities to hire when there’s no place to rent and not very many to buy.

The Oak Street Commons development is imagined as a village of 80 or more homes of different types, with a resource center, park, and community garden. Lynch said it’s still in the concept stage. The City Council recently created a task force to craft the layout.

Lynch said the city hopes to have water, power and storm water infrastructure in place this fall. From there, city leaders would like to see the project come together quickly, in perhaps two years.

He said the state-based nonprofit i-Sector is helping with technical details, and Oak Street Commons is a potential model for many other Oregon communities.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.