WARRENTON — An investment of nearly $14 million will help preserve more than 50 units of affordable housing at three complexes around Warrenton.
The Northwest Oregon Housing Authority, a regional supplier of low-income housing, recently formed Alder Court LLC to manage the Alder Court, Canim and Wapiti apartment complexes.
Totaling 52 units, the three complexes comprise nearly half of all federally designated affordable housing in Warrenton, said Todd Johnston, executive director of the housing authority. Such complexes are increasingly important for people on lower and fixed incomes as rents continue a steady increase throughout the region.
“Just generally in Astoria and Warrenton, we’ve seen a huge increase over the past two years,” Johnston said. “In Portland the rents have gone up quite a bit, too, and I think it’s just a ripple effect from that.”
The Alder Court project has been two years in the making, starting with a Meyer Memorial Trust grant that allowed the housing authority to assess its portfolio of housing throughout the county. Alder Court, a 40-unit complex for the elderly and disabled built in 1979 and not substantially retrofitted since, became the highest priority.
General contractor Bremik Construction started last week rehabbing the first of several buildings at the Alder Court Apartments near downtown.
The contractor will also make more minor exterior repairs at Canim, a fourplex along the Skipanon River Trail, and Wapiti, an eight-unit complex in a recent development east of the North Coast Retail Center. The two smaller properties are part of the portfolio of Clatsop County Housing Authority. The regional authority has been managing the properties for the county since 2013, when the two authorities began to merge. The inclusion made the project work financially, Johnston said.
Oregon Housing and Community Services oversaw a competitive bidding processing involving the housing authority and others seeking private investment in affordable housing. The authority was awarded $10.8 million in federal low-income housing tax credit equity through affordable housing investment firm WNC Inc., along with $1.2 million in state affordable housing tax credits and a $505,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s home investment partnerships program.
WNC provides the money up front for the renovations in exchange for tax credits and became a limited partner in Alder Court LLC, Johnston said. “The investors required a separate entity because they have to have an ownership stake.”
Brady Webster, the project superintendent for Bremik, said the company is refurbishing Alder Court building by building, about 12 units at a time. The company and its subcontractors are replacing floors, cabinets, lighting fixtures, bathrooms and paint in each unit. Residents are being relocated during the work.
“It’s a mixed bag of emotions,” Webster said of relocating residents. “But I think once they see the finished project, they’ll be excited.”
Bremik is also rehabbing and seismically reinforcing Alder Court’s post-and-pier foundation. Michael Magee, an architect helping oversee the project, said the assumption is that the wooden pilings are in good condition underground and away from open air. Rotted portions of pilings are being replaced with steel, Webster said.
The entire project is expected to wrap up by the end of next year and provide each of the properties with at least another 30 years of useful life.
Alder Court includes 28 seniors and 12 people with disabilities, with an average annual income of $13,750. Residents pay no more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income in rent.
Two-bedroom units at Wapiti cost $725 monthly, Johnston said. “Right in the same neighborhood, we know that they’re going for $1,200, because we’ve had renters who’ve had to move out because they couldn’t afford it.”
“It seems like people are paying those rents, and they’re not having trouble getting those rents,” he said. “It just means our tenants, our Section 8 tenants, are being priced out.”