Meeting Housing Needs

Child and Adult hands holding a crayon picture of a family and a house.

The Salem City Council recognizes homelessness as a critical problem in our community. We’re actively working with partners to reduce hardships that lead to homelessness and increase access to affordable housing for our residents and families with children who are unsheltered or at-risk of becoming homeless. We’re taking a collaborative approach and adapting multiple best practices to fit our community. Because a community-wide response is required to address ongoing issues, we need your help too! 

The lack of affordable housing is part of the homelessness problem. Some who are homeless just need an affordable place to call home. Through the Salem Housing Authority and urban renewal funds, the City is developing low-income housing and actively works with developers to encourage construction of affordable housing.

Affordable housing projects

The Salem Housing Authority is developing low-income housing including:

New 

  • Redwood Crossings: 37 units of permanent supportive housing.  Salem Housing Authority will own and manage the property, contracting with ARCHES to support residents.  Salem Health will lease six of the housing units for transitional respite care. (Under construction.)

  • Yaquina Hall: 52 one-bedroom units.  (In design.)

  • Sequoia Crossings: 78 units of permanent supportive housing.  Salem Housing Authority will own and manage the property, contracting with ARCHES to support residents. (Land is under Salem Housing Authority ownership SHA is securing grants and construction financing.)

  • Salem Housing Authority-owned apartment complexes.  Ongoing remodel of four complexes will result in eight new units (by converting five-bedroom units into one- bedroom fully accessible and two-bedroom units. (Under construction.) 

Existing

There are nine properties within Salem Housing Authority's portfolio, offering rents set lower than typical rents in the Salem area.

  • Parkway East and West offers 2- and 3-bedroom units;

  • Southfair Apartments offers 1, 2, and 3-bedroom units, as well as eight income-based units.  

  • Another four properties SHA owns and manages are for low-income seniors.  Two of our sites have rents based on income: Robert Lindsey Tower and Englewood East Apartments. The other two are affordable, flat-rate rent; Southview Terrace Apartments and Englewood West Apartments. 

In all, Salem Housing Authority's direct expenses for federal fiscal year, October 2018-19 were $27.4 million.

  • Through urban renewal funds, the City  supported construction of 188 affordable apartments on Portland Road.

  • The City Council created a tax incentive for qualifying non-profit owners of low-income housing.  Seven non-profit owned properties have property tax exemptions, providing more than 350 units of affordable housing throughout our community.  Salem's share of foregone tax revenue in 2019-20 was $70,776 to support non-profit provided affordable housing in north, northeast, south, and southeast Salem.

  • Planning for Growth through community-wide visioning in the Our Salem Project and through the review of multi-family design standards and requirements.

  • ​The City is continuing to adapt building requirements to provide you opportunities to expand housing options on your property.

City programs

The City is actively helping the homeless and working to reduce homelessness in Salem through the following programs:

  • Homeless Rental Assistance Program.  Launched in July 2017, the City of Salem, through the Salem Housing Authority, has committed $2.1 million dollars to support the Homeless Rental Assistance Program. HRAP links chronically homeless individuals to housing, food, furnishings, and social services. As of January 2020, HRAP has housed more than 260 individuals. Since its inception, the largest Housing First program in Oregon has an 83% success rate. Chronically homeless individuals often deal with untreated mental illness, addiction, and chronic health conditions worsened by long periods of homelessness. In addition, some face preexisting barriers to housing, such as criminal history, evictions, and poor rental history. The HRAP combines rental assistance, intensive case management, and funding to reduce these and other barriers to success. Success is to stabilize into housing and through a Section 8 voucher for long-term housing stability.

  • In November 2019, Salem Housing Authority was awarded more than $450,000 in rental vouchers to house very-low Income residents with disabilities. Vouchers pay private landlords the difference between what a low-income household can afford and the fair market rent. The vouchers are targeted to persons with disabilities, particularly those who are transitioning out of institutional or other separated settings; at serious risk of institutionalization; currently experiencing homelessness; previously experienced homelessness and currently a client in a permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing project; or at risk of becoming homeless.

ARCHES

Several implementation items that came out of the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force are occurring at ARCHES. These include expanded day room space, showers, 24/7 restroom facilities, laundry, and storage.  Under construction now, the new space is expected to open in mid-2020.

ARCHES staff, HomeBase Shelters of Salem, and volunteers from the homeless community, have developed a Pocket Guide for Homeless in Salem that is by the homeless for the homeless. This compact, foldable handout identifies resources, service providers, and meal locations, and is a new, excellent tool for the homeless community as well as downtown businesses. Additionally, ARCHES staff and volunteers are performing daily morning walk-throughs of the downtown corridor to route overnight campers (on sidewalks, in alleyways, in doorways) to service providers (ARCHES/HOAP/UGM).

United Way

Through United Way, Safe Sleep Salem opened in Fall 2019 with 10 shelter beds for women in our community. Following the City’s declaration of a housing emergency, Safe Sleep Salem was able to expand to 19 shelter beds. The United Way has funded a Mobile Hygiene Unit, operated by ARCHES. The unit goes to areas with a high density of unsheltered populations to provide basic need services.

Union Gospel Mission

A new site at 700-800 Commercial St NE and 253-275 Division St NE is under construction and a Riverfront Downtown Urban Renewal Area grant was issued in June 2019 for this project. The new site will expand UGM dining capacity from 72 to 232 seats and 220,000 meals annually (a 36% increase). It will also increase shelter capacity from 150 to 300 beds (116% increase in annual nights of shelter). It will also include recovery and education services..

​Police behavioral health detachments

The Salem Police Department has officers who are specially trained to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. These officers also work with agencies in both Marion and Polk Counties.

Low-income assistance

The City of Salem partners with the City of Keizer to receive and distribute federal grants that fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership. These grants also providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.

The City of Salem has programs to assist with utility and sewer bills, and awards roughly $400,000 each year in grants to local non-profits that provide emergency or essential services to the most vulnerable populations with the highest need.

2-1-1 Information and referral service

2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline to connect people of all ages to financial, domestic, health, or disaster-related services. These services are offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Grants for vulnerable populations 

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). CDBG awards from the City go to local non-profits that provide emergency or essential services to the most vulnerable populations with the highest need.

  • HOME Investment Partnership Program. The HOME Program provides formula grants that communities use (often in partnership with local nonprofit groups) to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent, homeownership, or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.

  • City of Salem. Another $400,000 is awarded annually from the City of Salem to organizations providing critical services to those in need in our community.

  • Grants for 2018 and 2019 include

    •  Willamette Neighborhood Housing Nueva Luz affordable housing apartments

    • Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network tenant-based rental assistance

    • Salem Housing Authority security deposit assistance

    • Center for Hope and Safety

    • Congregations Helping People interim housing support

    • Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency warming center network support

    • WestCare veterans housing facility upgrades

    • Integrated support for Living Fisher/Sizemore apartments

    • MERIT Microenterprise program

    • Northwest Human Services crisis and information hotline

    • Saint Francis Shelter case management

    • Women at the Well Grace House

    • Northwest Human Services HOST Youth Center

    • Marion Polk Food Share emergency food procurement

Marion-Polk Food Share

Food assistance provided through Marion-Polk Food Share and other communmity organizations helps those in our community who often have to choose between rent and groceries.

Continuum of Care

Marion and Polk counties and cities in the two counties have  established a  local Continuum of Care to improve service delivery, coordination, and data gathering, with the dual goals of better meeting the needs of preventing homelessness in our community and securing additional federal funds to provide more homelessness services  The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved the Marion/Polk Continuum of Care.

Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force

The Task Force included City leaders, business owners, service providers, property owners, residents, and advocates for the homeless. They worked together to identify specific, measurable, time-bound solutions to make downtown Salem inviting and welcoming to all Salem residents and visitors. The Task Force completed its work by developing a number of recommendations the summer of 2018. An implementation plan was presented to Council at a work session in February 2019.

Homelessness in Salem is a complex problem that requires long-term, committed partnerships with public and non-profit agencies and organizations across the City, Marion County, and Polk County. We thank the many non-profit, private, and government organizations that have joined together in seeking proactive solutions.

The Salem community's support is critical to helping the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

Ways you can help:

Your help is vital and greatly appreciated.