Jesse Russell wants Bend to be a little more like the Bend where he grew up, where working people can afford their own homes.
He and his business partner and longtime friend, Kit Blackwelder, in business together as Tongue & Groove Tiny Homes, are sizing up opportunities for a tiny-home development. Tiny homes, in this case structures of 200-400 square feet, are a trend espoused by some as an option for affordable housing.
Russell met with a Bend city planner for a routine review of a proposed development, only a site was chosen at random as an example of Tongue & Groove’s idea. The partners have no property on which to build. Russell said he submitted the plan to see if the idea would meet city regulations.
It would work under Bend’s cottage code, but the cost of land and system development charges, or SDCs, in Bend work against the idea of tiny homes as affordable housing, Russell said.
“For us, in order for these to pencil out, the SDCs need to (be) scaled,” Russell said, “With the land we have available now, if SDCs were scaled, we’d be able to hit that $150,000 mark….”
Russell plans on building seven units on slabs, not wheels, with required common areas and sewer, water and power hookups. The homes themselves would adhere to building codes, Russell said. Building tiny homes to code would circumvent tiny homes popping up on unapproved sites, he said.
“There are people living in tiny houses right now in Bend and Sisters,” Russell said. “They’re under the radar, and hopefully they’re well built. Hopefully, no one gets hurt.”
Tongue & Groove is looking for assistance, like a break on system development charges, or an investor to help buy land on which to build, he said.