Following the devastating Almeda Fire that swept through the Rogue Valley on the morning of September 8, 2020, developer Fortify Holdings partnered with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Rogue Community Health and ACCESS to create affordable housing for displaced families.
While the ODHS provided short-term shelter to survivors after the fires, long-term solutions were complicated by Oregon’s already short housing supply. The agency worked with Fortify Holdings to innovate a novel idea: converting hotels into short-term shelters that would eventually become apartments.
In January 2022, Fortify Holdings officially welcomed new tenants home to “The Jackson,” a former Medford motel converted to 84 beautiful living units. For now, rental priority at The Jackson will be given to wildfire survivors.
“We are thrilled to be part of the solution here in Medford, particularly to be helping those impacted by wildfires,” said Ziad Elsahili, President of Fortify Holdings. “We invested in Southern Oregon and purchased this hotel with the long-term vision for creating an apartment community, and we’re excited about our public/private partnerships across the region that have enabled us to do just that.”
Freedom Financial Funds, LLC, a private equity fund and real estate lender, provided capital for the venture. According to Freedom Financial Funds Northwest Region Director, Eric Shoemaker, “This was one of those unique win-win-win projects that make you grateful to have played a role. We had a visionary client, great economics, and the incredible feel-good factor of providing housing for so many victims of the Almeda Fire. We’re especially proud of the quality of the units. Fortify does exceptional work and these newly-renovated units are among the best studio apartments in the Medford MSA. While the pain and disruption caused by this tragic event is still very real in the Rogue Valley, we believe deeply in this community and hope to support additional projects here in the future.”
The Jackson is just one of the area motels purchased by Fortify Holdings last year. The developer also bought the Inn at the Commons; an Econo Lodge; and a Ramada. Some apartments, like The Jackson, are set aside as affordable housing and relief housing for those displaced by the fires. Other units will be leased at market rate. Oregon Housing and Community Services will provide rental assistance through ACCESS until June 30, 2023 for tenants who can’t afford market rents.
In only a few hours, the Almeda Fire destroyed more than 2,600 homes in the cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Medford. It was the most destructive wildfire in Oregon’s recorded history. On the same day, the South Obenchain Fire in Jackson County burned dozens more homes and buildings.
It hasn’t been easy for the community to recover from such a devastating event in the middle of a pandemic. But local officials, business people and residents came together and got creative. For example, grassroots organizations like Rogue Food Unites solved two problems at once by supporting struggling restaurants and providing food to survivors.
Fortify Holdings simply did what it does best: transform neglected communities into accessible, safe and affordable homes.
Freedom Financial Funds responds to the financing needs of real estate professionals seeking capital for construction, rehabilitation, repositioning, conversion or additions to commercial and residential properties in the Western United States. Freedom also offers build-to-suit financing nationally. In only five years, Freedom has executed more than $500M in transactions and has remained steadfast throughout the CV-19 crisis. Freedom serves markets throughout the Western and Southwestern U.S. from its locations in California, Arizona, Oregon and Texas.