Appelgate Landing Apartments in Lebanon will soon bring affordable housing and other critical services to veterans in Linn County.
LEBANON – A new apartment complex that recently broke ground in Lebanon will bring affordable housing and other critical services to veterans in Linn County. This effort will also bring full-circle an Oregonian family’s legacy of serving veterans throughout the state.
It began with Edward C. Allworth, an Oregon World War I veteran and recipient the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration for acts of valor.
But Allworth — who is the namesake of the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, which opened in 2014 and is run by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs — has another legacy of service to the nation and its veterans that is lesser known.
Following the end of WWI, Allworth rejoined Oregon Agricultural College (now known as Oregon State University) as a faculty member and director of the college’s Memorial Union — and it was in this capacity that he facilitated housing and other support to the next generation of veterans after World War II.
His great-grandson, Lebanon resident James Lutz, said Allworth started many programs for WWII veterans, including those to help them cope with a physical disability and post-traumatic stress — most of which were virtually unheard of 75 years ago.
“I grew up listening to all the stories of my grandfather’s accomplishments helping veterans and have always been drawn to continuing that legacy,” Lutz said.
He is indeed continuing that legacy with Applegate Landing Apartments, the unique housing project in Lebanon that broke ground on Friday, Aug. 21. The project is a 48-unit affordable housing development, with 12 units for veterans only and the remaining apartments designated veteran-preference.
The bulk of the funding for the project is from Oregon Low Income Housing Tax Credits and low-interest loans approved through Oregon Housing and Community Services. Lutz credits CASA of Oregon and its Community and Shelter Assistance Corp. for helping develop its funding proposal and navigate that process.
And thanks to Crossroads Communities, a Lebanon-based nonprofit that provides peer counseling, educational opportunities, job skills and other programs, Applegate Landing will provide much more than just housing for the veterans it serves — just like the Union managed by Lutz’s great-grandfather before him.
“Over the last several decades, I’ve seen the increasing need to help our veterans,” Lutz said. “I’ve seen my own friends suffer from PTSD and other disabilities due to their deployments during multiple wars. I’ve seen the impacts on my own two sons serving overseas.”
With the need for housing and other services increasing in many communities across Oregon, Lutz and Crossroads envision Applegate as a sort of pilot project, a model that they hope can be replicated in other areas.
“No person who served our country should have to go a single night without safe, secure and stable housing for themselves or their families,” said ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick. “We applaud this incredible initiative that helps further efforts to functionally end veteran homelessness within Oregon.”
It was at the Lebanon Veterans’ Home that Lebanon Mayor Paul Aziz first met Lutz three years ago, during an unveiling of a commissioned portrait of Edward C. Allworth that hangs near the entrance to the facility.
“Lebanon needs affordable housing, especially for our veterans,” Mayor Aziz said. “Applegate and Crossroads will help veterans and others find housing and services they desperately need, such as counseling, social services, job training and help for those with addictions.”
Fitzpatrick, Aziz and District 17 Rep. Sherrie Sprenger were among those in attendance for a small, socially distanced ground-breaking ceremony held at the future home of Applegate Landing, located on Strawberry Lane near Lebanon High School.
“This is a bright day in what I know feels like a very dark period for everybody,” Sprenger said. “It is exciting to see people come together again for a very simple reason: which is celebrating and serving our veterans.”
The lead contractor on the project is Gerding Builders, of Corvallis. Lutz estimated construction will take about a year. They hope to start accepting lease agreements with residents in early August 2021.