2019 Session Aims to Produce Final Funding Plan for Roseburg Veterans Home; AOC and LOC Working on a Technical Assistance Bill (HB 2228) that could help communities apply for New Veterans Housing Dollars

The Governor’s 2019-21 Housing Plan includes a focus on veterans and aims to leverage $22 million of document recording fee funds in the biennium. These funds will be made available through competitive grant applications administered by the Oregon’s Housing and Community Services agency (OHCS).  House Bill (HB) 2228 is designed to provide a variety of housing technical assistance needs to cities and counties, including help for communities who are currently struggling in applying for these competitive veterans housing grants. In 2018, a $8.9 million round of veterans housing projects was supported by the document recording fee; 71 units were funded in Coos, Klamath, Clackamas and Multnomah counties. An eight unit Liberty Park Village project is currently being built in Klamath County.  This is Klamath County’s second veterans housing project supported by the document recording fee in the last three years; a ten unit “Victory Commons” site was completed in 2016.

See details for the Liberty Park project here.

Details on Roseburg Veterans Home Progress

In 2017, the Legislature authorized $10.5 million of general obligation bonds for construction of a third Veterans Home in Roseburg. Lottery bonds for the Roseburg Veterans Home were initially approved in 2011-13 and have been reauthorized in each subsequent biennium. Construction of the third home has not occurred in prior biennial for multiple reasons, including absence of a federal Veterans Affairs (VA) construction grant award that would provide 65 percent of the funding and analysis by Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) that did not support the facility maintaining necessary occupancy levels to operate at a sustainable level. Lack of progress prompted legislation in the 2018 session that required ODVA to study and report on the progress of establishing the Roseburg Veterans’ Home. ODVA’s September 2018 report recommended that the Roseburg Veterans’ Home be built on the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Health Care System campus adjacent to the new main VA hospital. The federal VA has agreed to transfer 13.2 acres to the State of Oregon, through a federal land grant, for the site of the home, as well as provide parking lots and utility infrastructure. The transfer of land and construction of the new home will not begin until ODVA has been awarded a competitive federal VA construction grant and secured the required 35 percent state match. ODVA intends to base the Roseburg home on the “small home care” model used in the Lebanon Veterans’ Home. ODVA currently estimates construction costs of $48 million for a 126-bed facility. Federal VA construction grant funds would cover $31.2 million (65 percent) and $10.5 million in state general obligation bonds has already been committed towards the state match (35 percent). An additional $6.3 million of matching funds is needed from state or local resources.

Contributed by: Andy Smith | Legislative Affairs Manager