Grants To Help Satisfy High Demand For Affordable Housing

Shaylon Cochran

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     Two community housing projects have received funding to move on to a second phase of expansion.  The developments in Soldotna and Homer have been made possible by grants from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

     The two projects are being funded by part of a $35 million grant program called Greater Opportunities for Affordable Living, or GOAL.  The program provides grants, tax credits and loans to project sponsors like the Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiative, which is expanding housing projects in both Soldotna and Homer as demand increases.

     “The market is taking care of a couple of those needs in the Soldotna area with private sector development of assisted living facilities there,” said Steven Rouse, Executive Director at KPHI.  ”But all across the Peninsula in all regions, from Seward to Homer, Seldovia to Nikiski, we see a need,” he said.

     And all areas of the state have similar needs, which means a lot of competition for the kind of funding necessary to build these kinds of housing.

     “To give you and idea of how competitive it was for the Silverwood Project (in Soldotna), we had just a little under $4 million in funds available this year and we had close to $13 million in requests for that source of funding alone,” said Danial Defino, a Planner at Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.  ”The competition was very steep,” he said.

     The Silverwood project will add six units to the existing complex in Soldotna near the Senior Center.  That facility is age-based rather than income-based.  The Alderbrook project in Homer is income-based housing for families.  However, a major consideration for in developing a second phase at Alderbrook is factoring in the cost of hooking up to natural gas once it arrives in Homer.

     “We may develop that in 2013, but we’re taking a wait and see attitude as to Homer’s decision about natural gas,” said Rouse.  ”The expenses…make operating an identical building about three times more expensive in Homer than in Soldotna,” he said.

     Another Homer project, Harbor Ridge, will renovate twenty-four units for low income families by Cordes Development using AHFC grants.  Projects in Eagle River, Anchorage, Kodiak and Wasilla were also approved.

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