December 14, 2021 — The Oregon Legislature, in Special Session, approved a $5 million appropriation for the Port of Portland and Hacienda Community Development Corporation to build prototypes of modular housing units, made from mass timber, that can be deployed to various sites throughout Oregon.

The mass timber modular manufacturing facility at the Port’s Marine Terminal 2 aims to support Oregon’s emerging mass timber industry, grow regional economic development opportunities, create career pathways and business opportunities for struggling communities, and accelerate housing production.

The Port and Hacienda joined together with the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition to create a strategy to accelerate housing production.

Speaking to the Legislature yesterday, Curtis Robinhold, executive director of the Port of Portland, said: “Legislative funding will help pay for Hacienda CDC and the Port of Portland to develop, manufacture and deploy prototype modular houses made from mass timber in at least three Oregon communities in the next 12-24 months. The prototype housing units will be barged and trucked from Terminal 2 to communities throughout Oregon to provide housing opportunities to communities in need.”

Ernesto Fonseca, CEO of Hacienda CDC said: “Hacienda’s core mission is providing affordable housing for individuals and families in our community. As affordable housing needs continue to evolve, we are committed to exploring and advancing new ways to meet the needs of our diverse Oregon communities. This partnership with the Port of Portland fills a gap for modular housing developed right here in Oregon, providing not only new housing options but job opportunities and new markets for Oregon wood products. Additionally, developing modular homes will address construction labor shortages in smaller and rural Oregon communities and could offer rapid response options to address housing shortages created by emergencies, like wildfires. We appreciate the Legislature’s investment and the opportunity to partner with the Port of Portland.”

Robinhold continued, “Given the magnitude of need for more housing options for people at all income levels throughout Oregon, it’s clear that we need innovation and faster ways to produce homes. The modular home building industry is emerging, and no factories in Oregon are currently using mass timber technology. Prototyping will put existing research to a new use and demonstrate potential for new modular building concepts. Once tested, manufacturing can be scaled up leading to improved supply and reduced costs, reduced build times and less waste of materials.

Following the creation of the prototype, Port of Portland and Hacienda will assess the economic, environmental and efficiency of creating these units at scale. Additional potential benefits include: additional jobs in manufacturing, construction and forestry; supporting Oregon’s emerging mass timber industry; and addressing severe housing shortages throughout the state.

Earlier, the Port of Portland and the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition were awarded a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build Back Better phase one planning grant for $500,000 to advance Mass Timber Modular Manufacturing Facility at Marine Terminal 2. They are now an eligible finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge.