Housing authority buys apartment complexes to preserve affordable housing

The Tukwila-based King County Housing Authority has purchased apartment complexes in Tukwila and SeaTac near the Link light-rail station to help provide affordable housing for families and individuals who meet income requirements.

The Villages at South Station in Tukwila are next to the Link light-rail line and station. BELOW: The Corinthian in SeaTac

The Tukwila-based King County Housing Authority has purchased apartment complexes in Tukwila and SeaTac near the Link light-rail station to help provide affordable housing for families and individuals who meet income requirements.

The addition of The Villages at South Station in Tukwila and the Corinthian Apartments in SeaTac will bring the housing authority 286 apartment units closer to its goal of preserving at least 800 units of affordable housing in suburban King County over the next five years.

Housing authority officials say affordable housing is threatened by what they describe as a “meteoric rise” in rents in the region, especially near transit centers.

Regional and local policies encourage the location of affordable housing near major transportation hubs, such as the light-rail station, which provide access to employment centers and services throughout the region.

The Villages at South Station complex is on South 154th Street, east of Tukwila International Boulevard, and the Corinthian is on South 154th Street west of the Boulevard. The Villages was purchased for $29.3 million and the Corinthian for $10.12 million.

“By keeping rents affordable, this acquisition helps the City of Tukwila attract the workforce it needs,” said Mayor Jim Haggerton about the purchase of the Villages at South Station in a news release.

“This is a strategic investment that protects affordability and mass transit,” he said.

How the properties are managed and how each will meet the demands for affordable house differ. Neither complex will offer subsidized housing, which is available at other housing authority properties, nor are the complexes considered public housing.

The Villages at South Station in Tukwila is considered a higher-end market property, according to Rhonda Rosenberg, a housing authority spokeswoman. Its management company, Madrona Ridge Residential, won’t change.

The housing authority will ensure that rents in at least half the 191 units will remain affordable to families at or below 80 percent of the area median income for a family of four, or $65,800. Over time, that will slow the increases in rent at the complex, according to Rosenberg, which likely would increase by double digits as rental markets tighten.

Rents there generally range from $900 to $1,500, depending on the unit size, according to the news release.

The housing authority will outright own The Villages and residents shouldn’t feel any “practical impact” from the sale, Rosenberg said. The complex will not require any major upgrades or renovations.

In comparison, some residents at The Corinthian in SeaTac will have to move to different apartment complexes, because they make more than the new income maximum, which is 60 percent of the area’s median income. To help with the move, the housing authority will give them $3,000 in relocation assistance and help finding a new apartment, according to Rosenberg.

The Corinthian has 95 units; residents in as many as half of those units may need to move. “We are working with residents to make sure they all land on their feet,” Rosenberg said.

The Corinthian, which attracts lower-income renters, also differs from The Villages in that it needs some modest rehabilitation, especially in the interiors, Rosenberg said, adding there are safety issues, too.

The housing authority will sell the Corinthian but will remain as the managing partner. Buyers will receive a low-income housing tax credit with benefits investors who preserve affordable housing.

Their closeness to Tukwila Station on Tukwila International Boulevard was one of the key reasons the housing authority purchased the apartment complexes.

“As rents in the region continue to rise, lower- and moderate-wage working families are increasingly being priced out of housing with easy access to mass transit. Purchasing existing housing along emerging transit corridors is the most cost-effective way of ensuring that these families have continued access to light rail, providing connections to healthcare, education and employment opportunities, and reduced commuting costs,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority, in a news release.

“These acquisitions support our region’s ambitious goals designed to provide adequate transportation capacity and housing affordability in the face of accelerating population growth,” he said.

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