PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – More than 2 years after nearly 300 Lincoln County residents lost their homes in the Echo Mountain Complex Fire, Lincoln City broke ground on an affordable housing community that it hopes will help wildfire survivors. 

The groundbreaking ceremony for Wecoma Place, located at 2133 NE 29 Ave. in Lincoln City, took place on Friday. 

The 44-apartment community will provide residents with 100% affordable housing. 

“We have all been through a lot these past few years, both personally and professionally,” said Oregon Housing and Community Services Director Andrea Bell. “On top of navigating life during a pandemic, the Echo Mountain Fire devastated the community and forever changed many lives. We learned that we collectively were not prepared for the level of destruction we saw in the 2020 Labor Day fires.” 

After the Echo Mountain Complex Fire, many survivors felt they had nowhere to go. Some told KOIN 6 News there was extremely limited housing in and near Lincoln City and that what was available was often too expensive for them to afford. 

Many spent months in hotels and others spent more than a year in FEMA housing. 

The affordable housing complex will consist of one- and two-bedroom units at 60% and 30% area median income. The complex will be located close to public transportation, freeways, schools and shopping centers. 

The four-story building includes a community space, an elevator, a courtyard with raised garden beds and on-site parking. Each unit will come with energy-efficient appliances and fixtures. 

Stewardship Development, Housing Authority of Lincoln County, Cornerstone Community Housing and Community Services partnered with Umpqua Bank, National Equity Fund, OTAK and Walsh Construction for the project. 

Cornerstone Community Housing will offer residents culturally responsive services and outreach. 

“As we continue working toward recovery, it is important to develop housing, like Wecoma Place, that provides residents with access to supportive services. My vision for OHCS is that we serve as a beacon of hope, optimism, and resolve for equitably housing the people of Oregon,” Bell said. 

Kathy Kowtko, executive director of the Housing Authority of Lincoln County, said the affordable, one-bedroom units are exactly what the county needs to serve residents who live on fixed or marginal incomes.