Sunday, May 19, 2024

Subsidized apartments ending

Market value rentals catch up with Pateros affordable housing

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PATEROS – The competition to find affordable housing, or any housing for that matter, in the City of Pateros just ramped up a notch as the 16 residential units in the rent-subsidized Pateros Garden Apartments revert to market value Oct. 1.

Terms of an FHA loan secured by the building’s purchasers years back stipulated that the living units in the complex would be rent subsidized for the duration of the loan. The loan now paid, the units can now be let at market value, though the owner said existing lease agreements will be honored until they expire.

Gene Dowers, director of the Pateros-Brewster Community Resource Center said that while the tenants had “very fair warning” that the rent structure would change, that does not make the search for other affordable housing in the area any easier.

Residents who qualify for HUD Section 8 housing are not required to pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent. A qualified renter receives a Section 8 voucher to cover the difference.

The Housing Authority of Okanogan County (HAOC), whose stated mission is to assist residents of Okanogan County to acquire and retain affordable housing opened a voucher program Sept. 10 that runs through Oct. 10 for Gardens residents to apply for voucher renewals, Dowers said.

“The risk is they go into a pool of people on the waiting list for vouchers,” Dowers said.

The owners have indicated that they will put the property on the market, and Dowers said his office has been advocating for HAOC to secure funding to purchase the building. The agency has met with the USDA Rural Development to explore funding options.

Recent figures for the city of Pateros claim that 28 percent of homes in Pateros are vacant. Under that definition homes that are occupied less than two months a year are labeled vacant.

“You can’t get a rental in Pateros,” said Dowers. “The owners of those second homes are out-of-towners so they skew the numbers quite a bit. Our vacancy rate is artificially high.”

Dowers said his office is doing a housing survey in both Brewster and Pateros.

“We got a lot of response from Pateros Gardens residents,” said Dowers. “It’s the only subsidized housing in Pateros and 100 percent of the renters there said they would not be able to pay market value.”

While HAOC continues to explore possible purchase funding, Dowers said the estimated $500,000 valuation of the Gardens property doesn’t guarantee that competitive bidding won’t drive the value higher. Located just across the street from Pateros Memorial Park on the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Dawson Street, the site is a prime waterfront property location.

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