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Ground is broken for a 16-unit senior housing facility last week in Omak.

OMAK — Affordable housing for senior citizens is one step closer to reality as the Housing Authority of Okanogan County broken ground on a new 16-unit facility last week.

A notice to proceed with the construction of the 16 unit Meadowlark Senior Housing was signed on March 29. Two days later, a ground breaking ceremony was held at the site location, 624 N. Pine St.

Yvonne Bussler-White, board vice chair of the Housing Authority of Okanogan County, shared as she presided over the ground breaking ceremony, ”that the mission of the Housing Authority is to expand housing opportunities for low income families throughout Okanogan County. Meadowlark Senior Housing is one of several recent projects that has enabled us to fulfill that mission.”

Okanogan County Commissioner Chris Branch, also spoke during the ceremony, noting how pleased he was to see that Housing Authority is fulfilling that mission.

“We need all kinds of housing in this county; affordable housing for working families, farmworker housing, and senior housing,” Branch said. “Every new unit makes a difference in our communities.”

The project is adjacent to the Pine Meadows Senior Living, which was constructed in 2012 and has been managed by the Housing Authority since that time.

 “This property was purchased at the same time as the Pine Meadows property and has always been intended for the development of affordable housing”, said Housing Authority of Okanogan County Executive Director Nancy Nash-Mendez.  “We had just been waiting for some help with the funding.”  

The state with its Housing Trust Fund program after a rigorous selection process, eventually became the principal funder for the Meadowlark project.  Other partners include Federal Home Loan Bank and Rural Community Assistance Corporation.  With building materials having recently skyrocketed in price, Okanogan County Affordable Housing Recording Fee Fund was asked to help with the last $135,000.

The total construction cost of the project is $4,135,000.00.

“Any type of development is a monumental task,” Nash-Mendez said.  “Coordinating all the logistics, funding applications, negotiating with lenders and cooperators, planning, etc.  It’s daunting, especially for a small agency like ours.

“This is why we have aligned with the Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing.” The Office is a non-profit based in Yakima that has been assisting small, rural agencies like HAOC for the last forty years, by providing housing development expertise and guidance,” Nash-Mendez said.

“Events like this are very significant for our town,” said Mayor Cindy Gagne, who together with other city employees, attended the groundbreaking event. “Providing housing opportunities for our seniors is one way a city can prosper and we are very thankful that the Housing Authority is taking the development of affordable housing to a new level.”

Construction is expected to be completed by April. The Housing Authority of Okanogan County is expecting to start accepting applications from low income seniors (age 55 and older) starting in October.  

For information about services or to apply for any of our existing affordable housing complexes, see okangoanhousing.org or call 509-422-3721.

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