HRB set to unveil affordable housing project

At a meeting next week, islanders can get the first look at plans for a neighborhood some believe will provide a model for Bainbridge Island’s affordable-housing future.

The nonprofit Housing Resources Board will unveil schematics for a 24-home first phase of a development slated for a 6.2-acre parcel on Ferncliff Avenue. The new neighborhood is being developed as a community land trust, which allows owners to buy a home at below-market value but restricts the amount of equity the owner can collect from the home, keeping the price low for the next buyer.

HRB Executive Director Carl Florea said the design will include pods of houses.

“We’re trying to cluster the homes, and provide as much open space and work in a family feel as much as possible,” Florea said.

Houses in the neighborhood will range up to three bedrooms and 1,400 square feet. Qualifying homebuyers would make less than 120 percent of the county’s median income.

A donor pledged the acreage to HRB in 2007. Half has already been turned over to the group and a second installment will be received in five years. The neighborhood would be the first CLT development in Kitsap County.

HRB first introduced plans for a Ferncliff development at a charrette last June and has since held several public meetings and orientations for perspective homeowners. It has raised more than $100,000 for the project.

Florea said the intent of next week’s meeting is to gather community comments on the design before it begins the formal city permitting process sometime during the next couple months.

“As a community land trust and steward of this process, we are committed to involving the community. It is our intention that this project reflects the interests and the values of Bainbridge Island,” Florea said.

To help facilitate public involvement in all its projects, HRB has brought on islander Wendy Johnson to serve as its first community outreach/development director, a part-time position.

Johnson has previously served as executive director of the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association and Bainbridge Island Television and currently works as a consultant.

Johnson said one of the goals for her new position will be to present a more cohesive message for how the work of HRB, the city and other housing groups fits together.

“We need to develop that messaging first, then get that out to people in a consistent way,” Johnson said.

HRB will host a public meeting 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Bainbridge Commons.

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