WENATCHEE — When the Cascadian Apartments convert from subsidized to market-rate rents at the end of the year, current residents will likely receive vouchers from the Housing Authority.
But the removal of 84 units from Wenatchee’s already-tight low-income senior housing market will be a significant blow, Housing Authority of Chelan County and the City of Wenatchee Executive Director Alicia McRae said Tuesday.
“If the units lose their low-income designation, that’s very critical. That’s a big deal,” she said.
Currently the Cascadian has a long-term contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that subsidizes all of its one-bedroom units for seniors and people with disabilities. The building’s owner, Tryg Fortun, notified residents in December that he intends to end the contract at the end of 2020.
The Housing Authority has had a couple of other private landlords end HUD contracts in the past. Each time HUD has provided special housing vouchers for the affected residents, McRae said.
“I haven’t received anything formal from HUD but I do anticipate that (we’ll receive them again,)” she said.
These vouchers will be tied to the individual residents instead of the apartment building, so people will be able to bring them to other complexes, McRae said.
The residents can also continue to rent at the Cascadian as long as the rents stay within HUD’s standard fair-market rent range, McRae said.
Fortun, the Cascadian’s owner, said Tuesday he intends to keep the rent within HUD’s fair-market range. In Wenatchee, that’s $800 a month for a one-bedroom unit, according to HUD’s website.
Fortun’s converting the Cascadian to end the time-intensive paperwork that comes with maintaining a HUD contract, he told The Wenatchee World in December.
But McRae is also concerned about the long-term effects of the transition, she said. As the Cascadian’s units become available over the coming years, anyone will be able to rent them, not just low-income seniors and people with disabilities.
“The loss of 80-some units to the low-income senior and disabled people in our community is fairly monumental,” McRae said.
The Housing Authority owns two apartment complexes for those populations in Wenatchee and both are full, McRae said. Their waiting lists are also at capacity and closed several months ago.
Garden Terrace, a senior living complex on Emerson Avenue, has a mix of HUD-subsidized and market-rate units.
“We have 146 apartments and all of them are full,” Ken Neher, Garden Terrace executive director, said Tuesday. “We have about an 8- to 10-month wait for a studio and getting closer to two years for a one bedroom. The list is growing.”
In the past couple weeks, Garden Terrace has received “multiple” phone calls from Cascadian residents looking for other options, Neher said. Three residents have officially filed applications and staff are expecting more.
The news has also left Neher considering whether Garden Terrace should expand to fill the need, he said. He plans to discuss it with the organization’s board of directors this week.
“For us, right now, it’s a wait and see more than anything,” he said. “How many folks are going to be able to stay in the Cascadian and how many will be looking for housing elsewhere?”