Pleased as I am that Home Forward (the new name of Housing Authority of Portland, though the name actually belongs to a Portland law firm) has cut the cost of replacing Hillsdale Terrace to just $337,000 per unit (which is about the median price of houses on the west side and noticeably higher than the median price of houses citywide), it could save even more. One way HF could save even more would be to send its agents to this upcoming auction of brand-new condominiums on Hayden Island. The units seem at least as attractive as what HF would like to build in Hillsdale. The location has bus service to Portland and is only a short walk to the employment opportunities in downtown Vancouver. The units are larger than the Hillsdale Terrace units -- each has 1900 or more square feet. Bidding starts at only $130,000. I'd be surprised if HF couldn't pick up 8 or 10 of the units for $200,000 or so each, for a savings of $1 million or more over the cost of building new at Hillsdale Terrace.
Whimsical as the idea might be of a government agency saving money by buying the mistakes of private developers instead of making its own, it does strike me as odd that HAP (or HF) doesn't think there's anything strange in building publicly-assisted housing that's more costly than the unsubsidized private homes that surround it.