BMAC gets $1.7M elderly housing grant

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WALLA WALLA -- Blue Mountain Action Council received a grant of more than $1.7 million help build and operate 13 one-bedroom units for the elderly on two sites in Walla Walla.

The money is part of $29.8 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop 200 units of accessible housing, provide rental assistance, and facilitate supportive services for very low-income elderly and persons with disabilities in Bremerton, Colville, Kennewick, Seattle, Spokane and Walla Walla.

BMAC's $1,734,100 Section 202 grant includes $1,582,000 to be used as capital advance funds and $152,100 for rent subsidies, according to a HUD news release. Residents pay 30 percent of their adjusted incomes in rent.

Every $1 million in such grants generates an estimated 20 jobs in the construction and service sectors, according to HUD.

In Walla Walla, the federal housing grant will provide very low-income people 62 years or older with the opportunity to live independently in an environment that provides services to frail and elderly residents, HUD officials said.

BMAC Executive Director Steve Moss said, however, more money will be needed and these projects are traditionally paid for by multiple sources.

Some of units will be built on Eagan Street. others on Wellington Avenue.

Moss said he hopes construction can begin within the next year. It may take up to three years to finish depending on construction costs, he added.

"In any time, but certainly in these times there is a pressing need in communities large and small across the country for accessible and affordable housing that helps some of our most vulnerable citizens live full and independent lives," HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride said in the release.

Qualified residents must have household incomes less than 50 percent of the median for their area. Most households that receive Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of that median income, according to HUD.

Walla Walla County's median household income in 2010 was $44,006, according to the state Office of Financial Management.

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