COOS BAY, ORE. - Coddington Place is a safe home for women and children escaping domestic violence and sexual abuse. Although small in size at 10 units, the development is big in purpose.

Coddington Place serves a critical role in Coos Bay by providing permanent housing and supportive services to women and their children. Without the development, many of these families would be on the streets or trapped in abusive relationships.

Developed by the Umpqua Community Development Corp. (UCDC), Coddington Place was recognized with an Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) 2007 Excellence in Housing Award.

“The residents have formed a sense of community so quickly,” said Betty Tamm, UCDC’s executive director. “It’s heartwarming. The development helps support the residents to get back on their feet.”

The $2.2 million development fills a gap in the region’s housing market. The Women’s Safety and Resource Center (WSRC) operates an emergency shelter in the area, but once the women leave the shelter they become vulnerable.

WSRC saw the need for permanent housing, but the agency is not a housing developer. To make the project a reality, UCDC brought its extensive development experience to the deal. Together, the nonprofits opened Coddington Place in 2006.

Although many affordable housing developments are financed with federal housing tax credits, Coddington Place took another route. The project is small and would likely have had a tough time competing for the credits, so the nonprofit organizations pooled 17 funding sources from both the private and public sectors. Half of the resources, more than $1 million, came from non-federal sources such as foundations, private lenders, and individual donations. Fund-raising efforts even included spaghetti dinners and a cross-country bicycle ride.

“It’s one of our mantras to get a lot of outside resources to help reduce the impact on limited state and public resources,” Tamm said. OHCS provided $979,000 in HOME funds and $100,000 from the Housing Trust Fund.

In an effort to conserve energy, the development features a solar water heating system and has insulation beyond what is required. Flash water heaters are used for the common room and offices.

Coddington Place is also more than housing. It’s a mixed-use development with office space for WSRC, a community facility for events, and a community garden. There are even dog kennels placed near the central courtyard. The kennels are important because many women will not leave their abusers if they cannot take their pets. Because safety is of special concern at Coddington Place, the dogs also help alert people when visitors enter the grounds.

In another strategy designed to increase safety, the buildings all face the courtyard and children’s play area so that residents have direct views of these areas.

Residents have access to crisis counseling, life-skills training, and other resources.

Two units are aimed at households earning no more than 30 percent of the AMI. Six units are reserved for households earning no more than 50 percent of the AMI, and two units are for families earning no more than 60 percent of the AMI. Monthly rents average about $343 for a one-bedroom unit and $476 for a two-bedroom apartment, well below market rates.

Additional project information, as provided in application by the nominator.

Q. Why does the nominated project deserve to be recognized based on the award criteria of this contest?

A. Umpqua Community Development Corporation (UCDC) and the Women’s Safety and Resource Center (WSRC), both 501(c)(3) nonprofits, partnered their resources and expertise to develop Coddington Place, a mixed-use, permanent housing project for families, women, and children escaping or suffering from domestic violence and sexual abuse. The drug- and alcohol-free housing units are targeted to single women and families earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. In their 30 years of experience, the WSRC has found that long-term success for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault includes staying connected to the services and support systems supplied by the WSRC. As such, this project incorporated design features and support services that foster this continued connection. Coddington Place is a unique solution to an affordable housing and social service need in this community. Its mixed-use design, broad community support, creative financing, and affordability all set it apart as a great affordable housing project. In recognition of this, it will receive the Oregon Housing and Community Services 2007 Excellence in Housing Award.

Located in Oregon’s Coos Bay, this project has not only increased the affordable housing stock in this area, but has filled an important gap in the housing market—permanent housing for victims fleeing domestic violence. Prior to completing this project, there was only one domestic violence emergency shelter, Cloe House, which served the metropolitan region of Coos Bay and North Bend, a community of over 20,000. Of this population, almost 1,500 women contacted the WSRC in 2003 alone. In this same year, WSRC worked to house 164 women and children, but had to turn away another 77 victims. Coddington Place has made an important impact on this special-needs population in Coos Bay by providing permanent housing and support services in one location. It offers a unique program of recovery for victims of domestic violence, so that the long-term success of breaking the cycle of violence can improve the community’s social and economic fabric.

Q. How does this project represent an innovative solution to a specific development challenge?

A. Construction of Coddington Place is not just the production of housing. Full site development included 10 residential units; additional office space for the WSRC; a community facility for events, trainings, and WSRC board meetings; a laundry facility; a community garden; and dog kennels. This mixed-use development kept the cost per square foot lower than it would be for any of the uses on a stand-alone basis.

Comfort and safety were the primary design concepts for this project. Considering the special needs of women and children suffering or escaping from domestic violence, the WSRC staff helped to guide the inclusion of special design elements to enhance safety for these residents. Specifically, the placement of the limited-access parking area in front of the residential complex, and a narrow pedestrian pathway into the main courtyard, carefully funnel all visitors through a common-view shed. Knowledge of who comes and goes in this community is of heightened importance because of potential threats from abusive partners. These design features allow for this visual monitoring. The placement of dog kennels adjacent to the central courtyard is an extra bonus that alerts residents to visitors to the complex. These kennels are an important amenity for these residents, as many women will not leave their abusive relationship if their pets cannot join them. Once inside the residential complex, the buildings are oriented toward each other to focus inward on the courtyard and children’s play area. All public rooms, like living rooms, face this courtyard, and there is a direct line of sight from each kitchen through to the courtyard. Keeping the “eyes on the yard” is a residential planning strategy that has a proven history of increased safety.

Additional amenities that encourage community support for these residents are a common play area, community garden and kitchen, and meeting space and laundry facilities in a common pavilion. Per the WSRC’s recommendation, incorporation of these communal spaces was specifically added to this project, because experience has shown that many of these residents rely on a support network of people who can sympathize with the experiences they have endured.