January 22, 2009 in Washington Voices

HUD grant helps fund Valley project

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Construction is expected to begin this summer on a 50-unit retirement center in Spokane Valley as the result of $4.2 million federal grant.

The $9.3 million project on two acres near the southeast corner of Appleway Boulevard and Farr Road will be another of the Rockwood Retirement Communities that Spokane United Methodist Homes has operated in metropolitan Spokane since 1960.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it also has awarded almost $1.92 million as a capital advance and a three-year, $177,600 rent subsidy for 17 units Spokane Mental Health plans to build for people with chronic mental illness in Spokane.

The Rockwood Retirement Communities project will focus on low-income retirees who are 62 and older. Rockwood’s chief executive officer, Alan Curryer, said the federal award will provide an interest-free capital advance for construction as well as rent subsidies for 38 of the new center’s apartments.

All the apartments are one-bedroom.

Curryer said the subsidies will prevent eligible residents from having to spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent. He said the Housing and Urban Development funding is the most important element in a complicated financing package arranged with help from Community Frameworks, a Spokane-based developer of affordable housing.

“Because HUD funding has not kept up in recent years with rising construction costs and an increased need for affordable housing, projects such as this must also look to state, county and tax-credit financing to make them a reality,” Curryer said.

If financing is completed soon enough, construction of the new Rockwood retirement center is to begin this summer and be completed in 10 months, Curryer said.

He said Rockwood tries to provide services that help residents remain vital and independent as long as possible, including on-site management, a service coordinator, limited transportation services, a wellness program and meals through the Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels program.

Rockwood’s other centers are Rockwood South at 2903 E. 25th Ave. and Rockwood at Hawthorne, 101 E. Hawthorne Road.

The HUD award to Rockwood is part of $12.7 million in awards to Community Frameworks and partner nonprofit organizations that serve low-income seniors and disabled people in the Pacific Northwest.

Community Frameworks spokesman Chris Venne said the HUD funding includes a $1.9 million capital advance for a $2.7 million, 17-unit project for developmentally disabled people in Grant County.

It also includes $6.6 million to help first-time home buyers in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon obtain “sweat equity” under a federal program called Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, or SHOP.

Christina Mejia, Community Frameworks’ SHOP manager, said the Spokane organization is one of three nationwide to share in $26.5 million of SHOP grants this year. It is Community Frameworks’ largest SHOP award since the federal program began in 1996.

Mejia said Community Frameworks will use its share to help 25 affiliates in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon build and rehabilitate at least 376 housing units over the next three years. She said 353 of the units will be in Washington.

The SHOP money is used to purchase land and provide infrastructure support for housing projects, up to $15,000 per dwelling.

Community Frameworks’ Spokane SHOP program, called HomeStarts, will share in the grant. HomeStarts has helped 158 buyers work their way into homes and condominiums in Spokane and Spokane Valley since 1996.

John Craig may be contacted at johnc@spokesman.com.


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