Intercommunity Mercy Housing broke ground on the Hilltop Tuesday for its first senior housing project in Tacoma.
New Tacoma Senior Housing, with 73 units for very low income seniors will rise on a half acre at 1709 South G St.
The new apartments will feature wide corridors, grab bars, wheel-in showers and 24-hour security, all the safety and accessibility features residents will need to age comfortably in place. Beyond that, residents will have on-site activities, including classes, clinics, tax help, even pet therapy.
They’ll get chances to volunteer and go on field trips. They’ll be welcome to join their neighbors getting sun and exercise growing fresh vegetables in the La Grande community garden next door.
Neighbors will see quite the change from the two shabby blue apartments that stood on the lot when Intercommunity Mercy Housing dedicated the Catalina Apartments just up the hill in July, 2007. IMH had refurbished that aging complex from the studs out, and put 43 units of quality affordable housing to work in the neighborhood.
In addition to the Catalina, IMH owns the Eliza McCabe town homes at 2315 S. Yakima, Hillside Gardens at 1708 South G Street, and Tahoma View at 11208 First Avenue Court East. All together, they amount to 160 homes. The new project will be the only one exclusively for seniors.
The old red-tagged buildings were gone and the lot was prepped for construction when city and non-profit representatives gathered in the rain for the soggy ceremonial ground-breaking Tuesday.
Overall, the four-story building will cost about $21 million, $17 million for construction. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development awarded $8.2 million for the job through the HUD Section 202 Capital Advance Program. That national initiative is putting $525.9 million toward projects that will build safe, affordable housing for very low income seniors.
IMH intends to apply for the rest of the funding from the state’s Housing Trust Fund, Pierce County and the city of Tacoma. It already has lined up support from Franciscan Health System and Tacoma’s Office of Economic and Community Development.
Though the building will be an asset, construction will be a benefit in itself.
The project will employ scores of construction workers, architects, engineers and sub-contractors. A press release on the project referred to National Association of Homebuilders figures that show construction of a typical multi-family unit generated 1.18 jobs and $33,494 in taxes last year.
Tacoma’s Deputy Mayor, Julie Anderson, added that, once it is occupied, New Tacoma Senior Housing will employ managers, maintenance, security, recreational and health care staff.
Residents will pay 30 percent of their incomes as rent. On average, senior households bring in $25,000 a year, compared to the average Tacoma household income of $61,000.
Headquartered in Denver, Mercy Housing is a national non-profit which has developed 34,500 homes for low-income residents in 41 states. Its Seattle office, Intercommunity Mercy Housing, operates 44 properties, with 4,000 residents statewide.