PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One part of the housing crisis is finding affordable homes for people who want to buy them, and a new grant is going help dozens of people do that

On Tuesday, Senator Ron Wyden presented a $1 million grant to the organization Proud Ground. That money will allow them to help 40 families buy affordable homes.

KOIN 6 News has reported on several affordable housing rental buildings in the past, but Proud Ground helps low to middle-income families buy a home at an affordable and below-market price.

Proud Ground is a community land trust, meaning they buy homes at market prices. A home buyer who qualifies will buy the house at a more affordable price than market price, and Proud Ground still owns the land, meaning the home will always be sold at or below market rate.

“This is about generational wealth and it’s about giving families of all kinds an opportunity to really thrive in the community, not just get by day to day,” said Proud Ground Executive Director Diane Linn.

An example heard Tuesday by KOIN 6 was a family moving into a home valued at over $600,000 and was able to buy the house for around $280,000.

Pedro Cruz, a realtor who is now on Proud Ground’s board, was helped with his home purchase by the organization.

“I been living in Portland for 21 years and the rent was getting [more] expensive and [more] expensive every month, getting more expensive to live.”

Cruz is an immigrant from Brazil and his wife heard about the program at a barbeque. They started by opening an Individual Development Account, which offers matching grant money for down payments if consistent deposits are made on time. That allowed Cruz and his family to qualify for a mortgage.

Then, Proud Ground found a house to buy. Proud Ground buys the house at market rent and sells the home to a prospective buyer like Cruz.

Proud Ground executive director Diane Linn says, to ensure the home is permanently affordable, the land is leased or entered into an affordability covenant to prevent it from being sold on the open market and preserve an affordable price for people with low to middle incomes, typically anywhere between 20 and 80 percent of the area’s median income.

When a home buyer wants to sell, they get 100 percent of the mortgage back and 25 percent of the home’s increased value. Linn says it gives families a start who may not have had the chance to ever buy a home before.

The $1 million provided to the organization today is the start of investments Senator Ron Wyden hopes to make in Congress.

“We’re going to continue to use all the tools. We have housing vouchers, we have low-income housing tax credits. This time, I’m going to try to build on middle-income housing tax credits,” he said.

However, there are not enough homes for Proud Ground to buy, which is why KOIN 6 asked Wyden what he can do to address that.

“I’m going to make a big push in this session of Congress for ‘mi-tech’– middle-income housing tax credits, meaning nurses, firefighters and teachers have a chance at the American dream,” Wyden said.

Wyden introduced the DASH Act (Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All Act) in August of 2021. He says some of those priorities were included in various infrastructure and COVID relief bills. He is encouraged in conversations with Republican Law Makers and with home builders for the rest of the agenda to move forward.

Proud Ground has 400 home sales they’ve worked with and not one has foreclosed in the history of the organization.

Linn believes that with the right investments, programs like hers will begin to make a difference in the housing crisis.

“We know how to solve the housing crisis, we have the models, they’re all in place. We need investments and we need a coordinated, dedicated path forward for these things.” Linn said