The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who own the campus of shuttered Marylhurst University, announced today they hope to convert part of the campus to affordable housing.

"In March 2020, the Sisters approached the city of Lake Oswego about considering a rezoning request that would permit use of a portion of the property for affordable workforce housing," the order said in a statement. "This would help support the local workforce and increase the supply of needed housing in Lake Oswego."

Marylhurst abruptly announced its closure two years ago this week, 125 years after its founding.

The university primarily served older students returning to college to finish degrees or do graduate work. Its unexpected shutdown was an early data point in what's since become a national trend for small private universities and colleges facing demographic challenges and the hangover of a higher education debt crisis. Concordia University closed its Portland campus earlier this year, and many other institutions of higher learning faced financial pressure even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sisters of the Holy Names own Mary's Woods, a senior living facility adjacent to the Marylhurst campus. In their statement, the order said in addition to preserving much of the Marylhurst campus for open space, they are hopeful that some of the 400 Mary's Woods employees could live in the new housing, relieving traffic congestion on Highway 43.

The rezoning process, including community outreach, will begin this summer.