Submitted by the Opportunity Council
Twenty apartments in Friday Harbor will remain affordable thanks to a new agreement between the Opportunity Council and the building’s private owners.
Harbor View apartments, built in 1984 through financing from USDA’s Rural Development program, was at high risk of transforming into market-rate housing. The sale of the property to Opportunity Council means it will remain affordable to low-income households for many years to come.
Opportunity Council conducted a regional risk assessment that identified Harbor View as one of the several properties in its three-county service area at high risk of transforming to market-rate housing because the owners planned to pre-pay their USDA mortgage.
“The extreme lack of affordable rental housing in San Juan County and the high cost of developing new housing made this acquisition opportunity a high priority that aligns well with our strategic goals,” said Greg Winter, Opportunity Council’s executive director. Winter also noted that Opportunity Council was motivated to preserve Harbor View as affordable housing in response to San Juan County’s new affordable housing strategic action plan that was adopted by the County Council earlier this year.
Under the agreement, Opportunity Council will pay $1.3 million for the property and continue to operate the apartments as housing affordable to low-income families and individuals under the USDA Rural Development program.
According to Winter, the real breakthrough that allowed Opportunity Council to move forward with this acquisition was favorable financing offered by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.
“The commission recognized the need and opportunity and really stepped up in a big way to expedite this agreement,” said Winter.
Commission staff, in turn, recognized the area’s need for affordable housing.
“We’re very glad to have helped make this project possible through our Land Acquisition Program,” said Karen Miller, chair of the Housing Finance Commission. “We know San Juan County, like so many rural areas of our state, has a critical need to preserve affordable housing.”
The sale of Harbor View is scheduled to be completed during the spring of 2018. Meanwhile, Opportunity Council will be working with the current owners and USDA staff to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership.
For more information on the Opportunity Council, visit www.oppco.org.