The Canopy Apartments at Powell will have a three- and a four-story building. Amenities will include elevators, laundry facilities on each floor, and ample on-site parking with an electric vehicle charging station.
Courtesy USA Properties Fund The Canopy Apartments at Powell will have a three- and a four-story building. Amenities will include elevators, laundry facilities on each floor, and ample on-site parking with an electric vehicle charging station.

Construction has started on a 169-unit affordable housing community in east Portland, Oregon.

The Canopy Apartments at Powell is being developed by USA Properties Fund in partnership with Northwest Housing Alternatives and Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). It is the first in the state for developer USA Properties Fund, which has more than 90 affordable and market-rate apartment communities in California and Nevada.

The $63 million community will have numerous amenities, including a bike room, a courtyard with a tot lot, a dog wash, and a donation pantry, allowing residents to share food resources.

Aggressive efforts to address affordable housing, through legislation and the passing of a bond measure by voters in recent years, have “made it more realistic to develop affordable housing” in Oregon, said USA Properties president Geoff Brown.

“We’ve been looking at expanding to Portland for a while, and The Canopy Apartments is a good fit and a great project to enter the market,” said Brown, who knows the region well, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Willamette University in Salem. “We appreciate the relationships that we have developed and enjoy working with Northwest Housing and OHCS. They are great people who understand affordable housing.”

The public-private partnership—including $15.2 million from OHCS’ Local Innovation and Fast Track program—was critical in taking the apartment community from the drawing board to the 3.8-acre parcel, according to Darryl Briley, a Portland-area development consultant working on the project.

“Increasing access to safe, stable, and affordable housing for Oregon families is a continued commitment of OHCS,” added OHCS executive director Andrea Bell. “Housing is a critical social determinant of health because it is a platform for health, well-being, and community. Financing multifamily affordable housing like The Canopy Apartments at Powell is a representation of our ambitious long-term strategy to respond to the housing crisis impacting the most vulnerable communities in Oregon. It is about centering humanity.”

OHCS has funded almost 19,000 affordable rental homes during the first three years of its Housing Plan, and it is on pace to easily exceed the goal of 25,000 over five years.

The Portland Housing Bureau has also played a major role in the new development, waiving millions of dollars in development fees. The city has issued a State of Emergency on Housing and Homelessness, which greatly expedites the permitting process.

JP Morgan Chase and WNC are additional financing partners on the project, and WALSH Construction Co. is the general contractor.

The Canopy Apartments at Powell is for residents earning less than 60% of the area median income, about $58,000 per year for a family of four. Rents will range from less than $1,100 per month for a one-bedroom apartment to just more than $1,500 for a three-bedroom unit.

Almost as important as the affordable rents are the size of the units, said Destin Ferdun, director of real estate development for Northwest Housing Alternatives. About half of the apartments will be three-bedroom units, helping meet the needs of families in the region.

The Canopy Apartments at Powell has a “very cost-effective, efficient use of the space,” Ferdun said.USA Properties, which embraced green-building practices more than a decade ago, has registered with Earth Advantage and expects to receive a Platinum-level certification for the project. Numerous earth-friendly upgrades—including high-performance windows, the installation of a solar-panel system, and a commitment to building with local materials—will help boost the performance of The Canopy Apartments at Powell by at least 26% compared with baseline permitted construction, according to Eric Foley, manager of the multifamily program for Earth Advantage.

The development could be the first of several projects in the Portland region for Roseville, California-based USA Properties.

“Oregon and the Portland community are committed to addressing the overwhelming need for more affordable housing,” Brown said. “And we’re looking forward to finding projects that make sense for us and our partners, and being part of the solution that helps ease the critical shortage of affordable housing in the region.”