Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Seniors moving into Hailey housing

Leases signed on 12 of 24 River Street units


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Sandy Christiansen, left, starts to get moved into her new unit Friday at the River Street Apartments in Hailey, with the help of her friend Marsha Reimann. Christiansen has lived in the Wood River Valley for 40 years. Photo by Willy Cook

It took about 11 months to complete the 24-unit senior-rental-housing complex at 731 N. River St. in Hailey. Last weekend, the first tenants moved into the two-story complex.

The River Street Apartments are available to tenants 55 and older. The building offers an exercise room, library and living room with a fireplace on the ground floor.

Sandy Christiansen, a 40-year valley resident, was one of the first tenants to move into the building. She has a lease on a unit with stunning views of Carbonate Mountain to the west.

"It's my very own," she said. "The first home that is my very own. I'm so excited. It's such a gorgeous place."

Michelle Griffth, executive director of nonprofit ARCH Community Housing Trust, which spearheaded the project, said about half of the units are taken, with leasing agent Northwest Property Management of Boise working through applications for the remaining units. Fifteen families had applied for the one- and two-bedroom units about a year ago. Griffith declined to say how many applicants are in line for the remaining units.

ARCH combined efforts with the city of Hailey to complete the housing project, which sits on city property under a 99-year lease for $1 per year. The city of Hailey took ownership of the property from Sweetwater developer J. Kevin Adams several years ago as part of a negotiated development agreement for his Woodside housing project.

Wright Brothers Construction of Boise built the complex. Griffith said the out-of-town firm was hired because no local contractors with enough experience building affordable-housing projects and bonding ability bid on the project in time for ARCH's construction deadlines.

Griffith said landscaping would be completed on the grounds of the property "ASAP" and flat-screen TVs will be installed in the exercise room. There will also be wi-fi on the property to give tenants access to the Internet, she said.

On the grounds, a gazebo, bocce court and shuffleboard court will be built.

"We're trying to make it homey. We want it to have a community feel," Griffith said.

One-bedroom apartments at River Street Apartments cost from $525 to $600 per month. Two-bedroom apartments will cost from $625 to $700 per month, said Griffith. The units range in size from 690 to 900 square feet.

Griffith said low-income housing applicants can apply for federal housing vouchers to help offset the cost of the rental units.

To qualify for the units, a person or couple must earn 60 percent or less of the area median income, a figure computed annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to HUD statistics for 2011, one tenant at the River Street Senior Community could earn up to $32,760 per year. Two-person households could earn up to $37,440 and qualify for the housing units.

ARCH is working in partnership with New Beginnings Housing, a for-profit developer based in Caldwell. Autumn Gold Senior Services, a nonprofit group in Boise, also is working with ARCH to help provide tenants with access to services for seniors, including rental assistance and medical assistance.

Financing for the project was provided by the Idaho Housing Finance Association and the federal HOME Program. The for-profit National Equity Fund bought the low-income tax credits, making the project feasible.

Three local family foundations, which prefer to remain anonymous, gave grants totaling $12,000 to the project.

For more information, call ARCH at 726-4411.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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