When Habitat’s board of directors made the commitment in 2010 to increase home building efforts by 50% they knew that securing a four-year bank of land was the foundation for this plan. In the past, Habitat scrambled to find affordable lots. The recent economic downturn, however, produced a glut of foreclosed properties and left other developments incomplete.

Habitat successfully took advantage of this rare opportunity to open a dialogue between housing developers with upside-down lots and local lenders with bad loans plaguing their balance sheets. We brought them together with our public sector partners and generous individual donors looking to leverage their philanthropic impact.

Over the past year we made these connections again and again and successfully secured property at record low prices. Bringing these parties together was a win-win situation, helping to establish and preserve affordable homeownership in the neighborhoods that need it most.

The largest of these parcels is located at Southeast 171st and Division streets. This site includes 45 vacant lots, adjacent to 20 homes built by a for-profit builder and sold at market rate. Habitat capitalized on the opportunity to purchase the 45 vacant lots through Mr. John Gray’s leadership gift to the campaign and the support of one-time federal Recovery Act funds. Because the first 20 homes were sold at market rate, this completed development will be a mixed-income community.

The development at Southeast 171st and Division streets will be the largest Habitat build in Oregon. The average developed lot cost was $33,000 per home, about 50% less than land prices one year earlier. Once built, the entire community will benefit from the $6,750,000 added to the local property tax base. With $0.30 of every property tax dollar spent on police, fire and parks, that means $25,000 more each year for these services.

As these homes are built, more than 10,000 volunteers will have a hand in transforming the lives of 45 families, including over 100 children.

The 45 Habitat homes on Southeast 171st and Division streets will be the largest Habitat build in Oregon.