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State approves $12 million to replace defective modular homes in Phoenix

Some of the modular homes have been installed on the site in Phoenix.
Jane Vaughan
Defective modular homes installed at Royal Oaks Mobil Manor in Phoenix in summer 2023.

A housing affordability council with the state of Oregon approved an additional $12 million dollars on Friday to purchase new homes for a mobile home park that burned down in the 2020 Almeda Fire. The money will replace homes the state bought that were found to be defective.

Oregon Housing and Community Services originally purchased 140 modular homes from Nashua Builders in Boise, Idaho for $26 million. 118 of those were installed at Royal Oaks Mobil Manor in Phoenix.

But, after major construction defects were found a year ago, the state decided to entirely replace the homes.

The state’s Housing Stability Council met Friday to approve $12 million for the new homes, plus an additional $5 million in tax credits. That money will come from remaining state wildfire funds allocated after the 2020 Labor Day Fires.

OHCS Deputy Director Caleb Yant said they’re asking for this money before pursuing possible legal action against the Idaho manufacturer to keep the Royal Oaks redevelopment moving forward.

“It’s been noted that there aren’t court filings that have occurred and I want council members to know that that does not mean that we’re not actively pursuing accountability for not getting a product that we paid for," he said.

Council Member Mary Li from the Multnomah Idea Lab said she had some concerns about the urgency with which the agency is moving forward with this funding request, especially when they haven't addressed some of the other parts of the project, like the timeline for getting the units ready for move-in. The opening of Royal Oaks was originally slated for September 2023.

OHCS Executive Director Andrea Bell said that they're working to push forward multiple pathways for this project at the same time.

"We are moving forward on the initial commitment made years ago to ensure that those homes are replaced and to ensure that the homes that are replaced are reflective of what people's expectations are," Bell said.

OHCS is also working with the Oregon Department of Justice to look into how the Idaho manufacturer of the defective homes can be held accountable.

The local housing authority in Jackson County is coordinating the purchase of the new homes and says they’ve found an Oregon-based supplier, but they're still in the procurement process and can't yet reveal its name.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.