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Grants Pass Hotel Transitional Housing Project Falls Through

A project to convert a hotel in Grants Pass into low-income housing using state funds recently fell through. It was one of a dozen proposals throughout Oregon meant to quickly create housing to support people displaced by wildfires or who are struggling with homelessness.

The proposal was part of Project Turnkey, which took $65 million in state funds and has been used to buy up hotels and motels from Pendleton to Portland to Ashland. The Grants Pass proposal would have used nearly $2 million to buy the Sunset Inn. But in early May the deal fell through when the owners decided not to sell the hotel.

“It would have very quickly brought 30 units online that are of the type of units that are pretty needed, which is 1-bedroom or studio apartments. There’s very few of those that ever get built,” says Doug Walker, a local builder and board member of the AllCare Community Foundation, the group that applied for the grant.

Oregon Community Foundation

Housing availability is tight in Grants Pass, Walker says. The hotel project was aimed at creating low-income multi-family housing.

“In the situation of Grants Pass, that’s a perfect example of an applicant that has tried tirelessly to find a suitable property and unfortunately has been unable to successfully be awarded a property,” says Megan Loeb, a program officer with the Oregon Community Foundation, which is administering grants for the state.

Money from Project Turnkey needs to be spent by June 30th, so this project won’t happen. Right now, there are more groups that have applied for grants than there is money, according to Loeb. There are currently 12 officially approved hotel property conversions around the state.

“It’s real unfortunate that we weren’t able to bring this into the community,” Walker says, “both the dollar amount and the efficiency of the building would have been a real win for the community.”

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.