Prosser affordable housing project gets last piece of funding

Tri-City Herald staff writerMay 25, 2014 

Genesis Housing Services' first affordable multifamily housing project in Prosser finally has approval for the last piece of funding needed to make the $10.2 million project a reality.

The state Housing Finance Commission recently approved about $7.5 million in tax credits for the 51-unit project for farm worker and other low-income working families.

"We've got quite a ways to go in Prosser," said John Probst, development manager.

But getting the tax credits is one more step toward finishing a project that Genesis, a sister company to Catholic Charities Housing Services, Diocese of Yakima, has been working on for 41/2 years.

Now, Genesis is negotiating with potential investors who will buy the tax credits.

The multifamily project, at 480 N. River Road, will include 48 two-story townhomes and three single-story units that will be accessible for individuals with disabilities.

They will be built in multiplexes. Some of the upper stories may have a view of the Yakima River.

The housing will be available for families earning 30 percent to 50 percent of the area median income or less, he said.

The income levels are based on family size. For Benton and Franklin counties, a family of four that lives on about $1,700 to $2,800 a month would be within 30 percent to 50 percent of the area median income, according to this year's income guidelines.

The project also will use about $350,000 from Benton County's affordable housing fund and $3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Probst said.

The USDA will review the permit-ready plans, and Genesis may need to make changes before going out to bid for construction and submitting a building permit application to the city, he said. He'd like to break ground in September.

Because of the USDA funding, 16 of the units will be specifically for farmworker families who must earn a certain amount of income from farm labor, Probst said. Another 13 of the units will be for low-income families who don't necessarily work in agriculture.

"It affords us the ability to serve a broader mix of the low-income population," he said.

Based on Genesis' market study, the project will help address Prosser's lack of affordable housing, but there still will be a need once all 50 of the units are filled, Probst said. One unit is for an on-site manager.

He anticipates being able to fill up the units quickly.

There also is additional land that could be used for a future phase to add to the available housing, he said.

The proposal was met with vocal opposition by some Prosser residents when Catholic Charities sought a comprehensive plan amendment to allow the zoning change. Those residents feared the development would flood city services. However, Catholic Charities officials said at the time that most of the residents of the complex likely are already living in Prosser.

Probst said he thinks most of the concerns brought up by Prosser residents will be alleviated when they see the finished complex.

The project, once complete, will meet the state's Evergreen Sustainable Development, Energy Star, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold and Green Communities standards.

"It's going to be something the city can be proud of," he said.

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