LA CONNER — Home Trust of Skagit is moving closer to building five new affordable homes in its Channel Cove housing development.
The trust was tentatively awarded a $112,000 grant in March through Skagit County’s HOME Consortium program, which focuses on the development of affordable housing in the region.
The grant is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and funds will be awarded following an environmental review and approval by the Skagit County commissioners.
About half the money will go to the construction of five new townhouses on vacant land at the Channel Cove development, said Jodi Dean Monroe, the trust’s executive director.
“Every little piece helps,” Monroe said.
Construction will cost about $1.3 million in total and could start as early as July, she said.
The houses will be available to first-time homebuyers in Skagit County who earn no more than 80 percent of area median income. That means no more than $38,000 for a single person and no more than $55,000 for a family of four, according to the Home Trust.
The trust helps buyers purchase homes by funding down payments, money that comes from HUD’s Regional Home Ownership Assistance program.
“(The trust’s) job is to make up the financing gap,” Monroe said.
With more than 37 percent of Skagit County households cost-burdened — spending more than 30 percent of monthly income on housing — lower-price housing is in high demand, according to a 2017 county housing inventory report.
“The more housing we can have that is subsidized on the front-end through these types of partnerships, we’re increasing the supply of affordable housing,” said Kayla Schott-Bresler, assistant director at Skagit County Public Health.
The five proposed units would be three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouses about 1,300 square feet each.
With rents often higher than mortgage payments, home ownership can be the more affordable option, Monroe said.
She said she has noticed that stability improves for both children and adults when families have a home. Parents can get better jobs and earn higher incomes, and children thrive.