WENATCHEE — The Cascadian Apartments, one of the valley’s largest and most prominent apartment complexes for low-income seniors, will convert from subsidized to market-rate rents at the end of 2020.
The building’s 84 one-bedroom units are currently available to low-income seniors and people with disabilities through a contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Tryg Fortun, the building’s owner, said Tuesday that the paperwork involved in maintaining that contract has become too much for him to handle.
“Our intent doesn’t have anything to do with changing the rents, it just has to do with changing the paperwork,” he said.
Cascadian apartments are currently available for around $700, he said. Usually tenants renting through HUD contracts pay 30% of their income toward rent and the rest is subsidized.
Fortun has owned the building, located at 100 N. Wenatchee Ave., since 2002 and has no plans to sell it or otherwise change its operation, he said. The building’s two full-time employees will stay on.
Fortun owns several other properties in the state, but said this is his only one with a HUD contract.
Apartment owners are required to give residents one year’s notice before opting out of a contract, HUD spokesman Lee Jones said Tuesday.
Fortun sent his notice to residents last week. The building will make the change to market rates on Jan. 1, 2021, he said.
When housing contracts end, the local housing authority usually provides tenants with housing vouchers, Jones said. The Housing Authority of Chelan County and the City of Wenatchee couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the process they’ll use for the Cascadian’s residents.
If they do receive vouchers, residents could use them to continue to rent at the Cascadian or move out and use the vouchers elsewhere, Jones said.
Fortun said he’ll allow residents with vouchers to stay as long as they want.
But as units become available after the start of 2021, they can be rented by anyone — not just HUD-eligible tenants.
Fortun’s decision to accept the vouchers is good news and will help ease the transition for residents, Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council Executive Director Alan Walker said Thursday.
But, in the long term, the loss of 84 guaranteed units for seniors could make a big difference for Wenatchee’s housing landscape, he said.
“It has the potential to be a devastating blow to an already tight low-income senior market,” he said.
The Cascadian is one of several privately owned complexes in the area that offer subsidized units through HUD. Most are completely full and have long waiting lists.
Luther Davis, 77, has lived there for the last four years. If he gets a housing voucher, he plans to stay as long as he can.
“It’s great, I love it here,” he said Thursday as he walked to the Wenatchee Public Library in downtown, one of his daily rituals. “They redid the unit right before I moved in, the carpet and everything.”