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Media contact: Paul Neville, 541-743-7121


HOYOP: 13 Down, Five Lots Remain

Date: Monday, August 14 2017


excavator at workNamed for a couple that housed high schoolers nearly a century ago, Wetleau Estates becons young families

If it seems like residential subdivisions are springing up overnight, consider the Wetleau Estates development in Lowell. It’s not quite as old as the picturesque hills that surround it, but more than a decade after the City of Lowell offered it to St. Vincent de Paul as an avenue for creating affordable housing, five buildable lots still bask in the glow of 11 completed homes and two just under way. The photo at right captures progress as a backhoe breaks ground beside a completed home.

What’s taken so long?

Conceived as a means of attracting young families with school-age kids to Lowell, Wetleau has been a challenge from the get-go. The City-owned property extended beyond the boundaries of a higher-end project uphill and was bordered by parcels owned individually by Lane County and the Army Corps of Engineers. By the time those agencies relinquished their interest the housing market had sunk into the housing crisis of 2007, with more families losing homes than building.

Then came challenges inherent in the development of all affordable housing: securing adequate funding and resources for the almost mythical Home of Your Own Project (HOYOP). To qualify, a household must have a minimum annual income of $28,500.

elderly lady smilingThe development name honors a couple who opened their home to the high school-age kids of the lumberjacks and millworkers working in rural camps. Al and Lee Wetleau sheltered soon-to-be soldiers, millworkers and businessmen, including Nils Hult. They also donated land for Lowell High School. A historical marker in Lowell spells their name "Wetlau."

Photo at left: Lee Wetleau on the grocery store porch.

Back to Home of Your Own, the program combines available funding from diverse sources like HUD and USDA Rural Development, including a deferred-payment, forgivable loan from St. Vincent de Paul, and requires each low-income buyer to invest at least 50 hours of labor and enlist some volunteer help as well. The home of a couple would ask 100 hours of so-called “sweat equity.”

Fast forward to 2012, funders, neighbors, SVDP volunteers, and the HOYOP staff gathered with a young working mom to celebrate the completion of the first HOYOP house.

Fast forward again to 2017 and groundbreaking for houses numbers 12 and 13. The first 11 households have brought nearly 20 children to the neighborhood.

As HOYOP has adapted to the times program partners have changed and available floor plans are different, but HOYOP abides and is waiting to embrace ambitious low-income homeowners.

“The housing market in Lane County is not so affordable for those with a working family wage,” said Andy Clay, HOYOP program manager. “With the blend of a little sweat equity, low-priced lots, and the financing package, we have been able to help a number of families achieve the dream of homeownership.”

The HOYOP income guidelines appear at left. If your household is a fit and Lowell is where you want to be (think cooling breezes from the Dexter Lake, sun-ripened blackberries, and magnificent scenery within driving distance of Eugene-Springfield), contact Andy Clay by email or phone at 541-501-0894.

He described HOYOP as a “rare and fleeting opportunity” for home ownership, saying, “ I urge those who may just be thinking about it, to check it out."

Home of Your Own Program webpage

Download the HOYOP flyer