By Jeff Morrow for TCAJoB
If you’re not looking for it, you don’t see it.
But Bryan Ketcham, director of Catholic Charities Housing Services (CCHS) out of the Diocese of Yakima, sees the homelessness and crowded living conditions people endure up and down the Yakima Valley.
And that’s why he’s excited about the newest CCHS project: a 60-unit housing development for senior citizens in Prosser.
The Prosser Senior Housing project will be an affordable, multi-family rental housing development for low-income seniors age 55 and older.
To qualify, those seniors must earn 50 percent or less of the area median income.
There will be 26 one-bedroom units and 34 two-bedroom units at the new complex.
All units are set to be American Disabilities Act compliant, or ADA convertible, allowing seniors as they age to stay in their units.
The project is located just off of Wine Country Road near the Les Schwab Tire Store.
“It’s very exciting for us,” Ketcham said. “It meets a need in the community. We’ve been working in Prosser for eight years now. This particular situation lends itself something unique to us—it allows us to address the affordable housing needs,” something Ketcham says there is a tremendous need for.
“On average, we have probably 200 families on a waiting list for properties,” he said.
One Grandview property had a waiting list of 500 families, Ketcham said.
CCHS has been building affordable housing for the past 17 years, including agricultural worker rental housing, work force housing, senior and special needs housing, and single-family homes.
The numbers are impressive. Nearly 3,000 people are living in CCHS affordable housing units. There are 740 units throughout Central Washington worth an estimated $125 million in real estate assets.
And still, it may not be enough.
“Often (families) live in overcrowded housing,” Ketcham said. “Some people live in their cars, renting out space in the driveway. As we all drive around the community and see a lot of cars parked in front of the house, multiple families may be living in those homes.”
As for seniors, Ketcham said he doesn’t see those situations as often.
“They might move back with family,” he said. “In some cases, seniors are taking care of the grandkids.”
The Prosser senior project is financed with a $9.085 million tax credit equity investment from National Equity Fund through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program.
CCHS applied for the credits last August, and was notified it got them in April.
Another $2.618 million comes from the Washington State Department of Commerce Housing Trust Fund, bringing the total for the project to $11.7 million.
“It’s going pretty well. We’re right on target,” Ketcham said. “We’re anticipating with the closing of all financing in August, that we should be starting construction around Sept. 1. There is a 14-month construction period.”
The development will be built green. It complies with the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, which emphasizes green building techniques. That includes energy-efficient construction, LED lighting, low-usage water fixtures, and xeriscape landscaping.
There will be two elevators for the building’s three floors.
Other highlights include a social hall, library, exercise room, services room, computer lab, multimedia entertainment center, classroom/meeting room, ADA restrooms for visitors, and laundry facilities on each floor.
Outside, the project will have individual garden plots, walking pathways and exercise equipment.
It’s an exciting project for Ketcham—helping a portion of the population that needs it desperately.
“Lots of seniors are on fixed incomes,” he said. “There is less money for them to work with. The rental market is so tight all across the state. That puts pressure on the rents and drives them up.”
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