It is possible to build extremely high-quality housing that rents for a reasonable price. It's partly a matter of extra-careful and caring design. It's partly an avoidance of speculative development. And it partly requires a long-term view.
The West End will have 140 units, 80 of which will be beautiful studios: at the quality of $100/sq. ft. construction. These will rent for $300/month, a few dollars below the median.
But when the West End mortgage has been paid, in 20 to 30 years, these rents can be maintained or lowered -- in either case kept far below market rents in the future.
This would not be possible if these were low-quality buildings, intended for immediate provision of very low-income housing. This is because the units might fall apart by the time they are paid off. This becomes quite likely since tenants see little point in taking care of buildings that nobody cared to build well.
Tenants are careful if they have control over, and responsibility for, their housing and workshops. The Trust will foster tenant control at the West End: we believe this is essential to a healthy community.
These are not arguments against housing people now. But in the long run, don't we want to provide solid, humane housing for all?
The West End will be a seed for further development of its kind in Eugene. Certainly it will have value as a demonstration project, but we intend to take a more active role in promoting responsible, publicly-minded development.
The Eugene Community Trust will actively develop, or arrange the development of, more auto-free work/housing clusters. Based in the West End, the Trust will also strongly pursue further housing in Downtown Eugene. Many sites have already been deeply examined by Architecture students and faculty at the U of O.
A complementary organization that will occupy the West End is the Center for Community Architecture. This is modeled after the successful Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture in London. At this Institute, graduate students study under experienced, concerned architects and developers, learning entirely through actual work on real projects profoundly in the community interest.