Cambridge Apartments in Centralia, WA
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Cambridge Apartments in Centralia, WA
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Low Income Housing Tax Credits spurred the redevelopment of these apartments that serve mostly elderly and disabled. The LIHTC program creates incentives for investors to invest in low income housing because they receive a dollar for dollar tax liability credit when they participate in refurbishing them. (Courtesy Mercy Housing Northwest)

More than 200 construction workers participated in the redevelopment of 92 affordable senior apartments in three southwest Washington State communities. The senior housing developments are located in Tenino, Centralia and Winlock. On top of that, more than a dozen construction jobs were created, four of which will be permanent.

Seventy-five percent of the workforce on the project came from the South Puget Sound area with Buchanan General Contracting and Tonkin Hoyne Architecture & Design overseeing the construction.

The multi-million dollar rural housing preservation initiative represents the latest effort in Mercy Housing Northwest’s decade-long commitment to revitalize and preserve rural affordable housing for seniors and families in Washington State. These three apartment communities serve lower-income seniors and disabled residents who have average annual incomes of $11,000.  Many of the apartments have rental subsidy that allows residents to pay just 30 percent of their income for rent.

Using federal “Section 4” Community Development Capacity-Building grants provided by Enterprise Community Partners, Mercy Housing Northwest has a multi-year plan to upgrade its rural affordable housing properties. These  are the eighth, ninth and tenth properties renovated by Mercy Housing Northwest in the past three years, and will be followed by preservation of three affordable senior housing properties with 84 apartments in rural Skagit County this fall.

This project used green building practices, recycled its construction waste, and included significant energy efficiency upgrades, lowering the monthly costs of utilities and reducing the buildings’ carbon footprints.

The redevelopment came about from a $9.5 million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit investment from Key Bank Community Development Corporation, syndicated by Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. (Enterprise). Since 2011, nearly $300 million in housing credits has been allocated to 33 affordable housing developments in Washington State under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

The three properties were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency. Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) acquired these properties 10 years ago from a retiring private developer as part of a 926-unit portfolio. Mercy wanted to protect residents from rent increases. Working with USDA Rural Development and private funders over the past year, MHNW was able to complete extensive rehabilitation work, including new roofs and siding, upgrades to appliances and fixtures, and improved plumbing and electrical systems. The project followed a compressed timeline so the seniors who live in the three properties would only need to leave their homes for 30 days during construction.

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