Bend City Council has canceled its plans to acquire a motel and convert it into transitional housing.

The Old Mill & Suites would have provided 64 housing units for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, but the Bend City Council on Wednesday canceled a purchase and sale agreement. That followed a determination by city staff that the property was unfit for that purpose, according to a press release.

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The motel was a cornerstone in Bend’s application for funding through Project Turnkey, a state-run program seeking to create about 1,000 units of affordable housing through the purchase of old hotels and motels.

Old Mill & Suites is pictured in Bend, Ore., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. The city of Bend hoped to convert the motel into transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Old Mill & Suites is pictured in Bend, Ore., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. The city of Bend hoped to convert the motel into transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

It’s unclear where this decision leaves the city’s application, but Mayor Pro-Tem Gena Goodman-Campbell said in the release that Bend remains “committed to finding a property that could be eligible for Project Turnkey funding.”

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At the same time, Council approved more than half a million dollars for housing and services through a federal grant program.

Money will go toward a 200-unit affordable housing complex in Northeast Bend and permanent supportive housing for eight people experiencing chronic homelessness. Additional funds will also provide warming shelter services, medical care, mortgage assistance and case management.

“We looked to prioritize projects that are ready to go,” said Ian Schmidt, an at-large member of the city’s affordable housing committee, at Wednesday’s Council meeting. “Really, fundamentally, projects that are five years out are ones we need to be supporting, but right now there are a lot of urgent needs.”

A total of nine projects will each get a slice of $535,983 allocated to Bend via the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement program run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Bend is one of 10 cities and three counties in Oregon receiving the annual grants from HUD to support growing communities — heavy emphasis on growing. The Population Research Center at Portland State University sticks Bend with almost 110,000 residents by 2025, according to its most recent forecast.

To support that population, the city of Bend has focused development on filling gaps in the affordable housing spectrum.

Bend lacks sufficient low- or no-barrier shelter space, low-income housing and transitional housing. The city also needs more units for middle-income earners.

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