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Westhome breaks ground

Named for the late Janet West, the Westhome project will add nine units to the island’s affordable housing roster. - Courtesy of Charles Wenzlau
Named for the late Janet West, the Westhome project will add nine units to the island’s affordable housing roster.
— image credit: Courtesy of Charles Wenzlau

If the weather cooperates, nine low-income Bainbridge families will celebrate Christmas in new and affordable apartments in downtown Winslow.

Ground will be broken at 11 a.m. this morning on Janet Westhome, on Knechtel Way west of Helpline House. The complex is named for the late Janet West, former mayor and longtime affordable-housing advocate.

“This will support the demand for housing by people who work on the island,” said Bill Reddy, executive director of the Housing Resources Board, which is building the complex.

“These will be teachers and a lot of self-employed people like gardeners and house-cleaners,” Reddy said. “These are the people who work in everybody’s homes and teach their kids.”

The complex will consist of two buildings running perpendicular to Knechtel, each containing four one-bedroom units, and a two-bedroom “carriage house” facing the street at the rear of the lot.

The one-bedroom units will have just over 500 square feet of space, while the two-bedroom unit will be 200 square feet larger, Reddy said.

Rent on the one- and two-bedroom units will be roughly $530 per month including utilities, Reddy said. They will remain as rentals permanently.

Residence will be limited to individuals and families whose income is less than 50 percent of the Kitsap County median – single people making less than $21,650 per year, or families of four making less than $30,900.

Most of the units have been assigned to people on the HRB’s waiting list. Some are “graduates” from Islandhome, a 10-unit development next to Helpline providing two-year transitional housing to families in distress, frequently after a divorce.

The biggest share of the $1.16 million cost for Janet Westhome – almost $500,000 – comes in the form of a 1 percent loan from the state’s Housing Trust Fund. Some $400,000 comes from Kitsap County Department of Community and Economic Development grants, while $200,000 comes from a bank loan.

The city contributed $50,000, some from the city’s Housing Trust Fund and some in outright subsidies.

The project has been in planning for several years, and its realization reflects growth in the HRB itself.

“We’ve had to metamorphose from being a little shoebox non-profit to being an agency with very sophisticated accounting practices,” Reddy said. “We now manage our own properties, and are in very good health in terms of the way we run our business, which is reflected in the extensive funding coming from state and county sources.”

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