Melissa McReynolds reclines in a fluffy black folding chair in her upstairs apartment at 10th and C streets in Springfield. Behind her, a mountain bike hangs vertically on the wall, freeing up valuable space in the compact living room. Her orange and black tortoiseshell cat, Ava, crouches under McReynolds’ chair, green eyes fixated on something outside. McReynolds smiles and follows Ava’s gaze out the rain-streaked window.
“I just love the view,” she says. “When the weather’s nice you can see Spencer Butte.”
Aside from its unusual color scheme — half baby blue, half white, with a yellow front door and slidable, rustic wood shutters — the four-bedroom house in Springfield demands no more attention than the adjacent houses. To its right, a sloping wooden fence separates the property from the neighbors’ squat, sand-colored bungalow. A high school lies directly across the street.
C Street Co-op was developed by Eugene architecture firm Cultivate Inc., and by local nonprofit affordable housing developer Square One Villages. Its subsidized funding and communal ownership structure makes it affordable to people making below-average income who otherwise couldn’t afford to live in a desirable neighborhood like C Street’s. And by giving residents partial ownership of the property, they can tap into its appreciation value, meaning they can sell their unit for more than they bought it for when they decide to move out.
McReynolds lives in a smaller, two-story house in the backyard — sea-green with the same bright yellow door.
McReynolds, a 53-year old caretaker at a retirement community and lifelong American Red Cross volunteer, has lived in the Eugene-Springfield area since 2017. She moved from Nebraska with a close friend as a way to celebrate her father’s recovery from a severe mental illness.
“I was at a great point in my life,” McReynolds says. “I just felt really free to do something exciting and perfect.”
While she loves the area’s weirdness and the warmth of its people, she’s had some bad luck with renting. Her last place was a single bedroom in a private house. She shared a bathroom and a kitchen with her roommate, who was also her landlord.
After multiple rent raises, she received an eviction notice. Her landlord-roommate had run into some personal troubles, causing him to become volatile towards McReynolds and leading to conflicts between the two. She’d been evicted before, but still shuddered at the thought of house hunting in today’s competitive market. And having just had a double mastectomy for breast cancer, she was short on cash, too.<span class="…….