Phillipa Nye of Ally Community Development discusses several options for the Olympic Community Action Programs’ proposed 44-unit housing complex with Roy Walker of the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. About 50 people attended an open house Wednesday night in the Dirksen conference room at Jefferson Healthcare. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Phillipa Nye of Ally Community Development discusses several options for the Olympic Community Action Programs’ proposed 44-unit housing complex with Roy Walker of the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. About 50 people attended an open house Wednesday night in the Dirksen conference room at Jefferson Healthcare. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Affordable housing project starts to take shape

Construction could begin as early as next spring

PORT TOWNSEND — About 50 community members got their first look this week at what Olympic Community Action Programs hopes will become a $16 million affordable housing project.

The mixed-use building proposed to be at Seventh and Hendricks streets in Port Townsend would include two floors of apartments with 44 total units that would sit above ground-floor classrooms for early childhood education.

Poster boards were set on easels Wednesday night during an open house in the Dirksen conference room at Jefferson Healthcare hospital. Visitors were issued stickers, and they voted on a variety of concepts, from exterior concepts and setbacks to interior design.

“We got a lot of positive comments, including from the neighbors,” said Kathy Morgan, director of housing and community development for Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP).

The proposed site sits on Jefferson County land but has an underlying zone established by the city of Port Townsend, so it has to comply with the city zoning code. It’s currently a paved parking lot in an area that serves the QFC and county services, including the Department of Community Development and the Public Health Department.

It’s also close to the hospital and other services, including Jefferson Transit.

“It’s a tight spot, but it’s an ideal spot,” OlyCAP Executive Director Dale Wilson said.

Public feedback gathered Wednesday will help Ally Community Development firm up a design concept.

Funding will come from a number of sources, with the largest hurdle coming in September, when OlyCAP must meet a deadline to apply for the state Housing Trust Fund, Morgan said.

That application is expected to be $3 million, and if they’re successful, Morgan is confident they would be able to receive an additional $10.2 million from private investments via tax credits through a national IRS program.

Morgan said she should know by December if a state application is approved.

“For projects of this scale, I know of no other way OlyCAP could do this right now,” Wilson said.

The remainder of OlyCAP’s funding would come from various sources, including a bank loan for about $1.2 million plus $163,661 from the organization. A fact sheet presented at the open house showed an additional $500,000 from Federal Home Loan Bank, about $491,000 from the state Early Childhood Facilities and nearly $400,000 from local donations, contributions and grants.

Development is expected to cost about $2.3 million and construction nearly $12.5 million.

Morgan said the complex would aim to serve single parents or families with young children who are living up to 50 percent of the area’s median annual income level.

The complex is projected to have six studio apartments, 19 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units.

“Over the last three years, there has been a huge influx of people reaching out to us who have never used our services before,” she said.

They often don’t show up in the county’s annual Point in Time homeless count, she added.

“They’ve doubled up, living in their cars or their vans,” Morgan said.

Often, it may be a situation in which a house they had been renting is put on the market, and they aren’t able to secure housing before they time they need to move out, she said.

“These are people with service jobs,” she said. “It could be your server at your favorite restaurant, and you would never know.”

Morgan said OlyCAP has had to turn away between 150 and 200 families annually during the past three years because they haven’t had the services to help them.

Construction at Seventh and Hendricks could begin as early as next spring “if everything falls into place,” Morgan said.

________

Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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