In our opinion Affordable housing on Vashon

Residents watch a summer rain at Davis Freeman Apartments. - Leslie Brown/staff photo
Residents watch a summer rain at Davis Freeman Apartments.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/staff photo

Jean Bosch, real estate agent and housing advocate, captured the dilemma well when she talked to The Beachcomber this week about Vashon HouseHold’s newest project.

Rents, she says, only spiral upwards on this Island of ours. And thus, even with the new affordable units at Vashon HouseHold’s spectacular Eernisse Apartments, the need continues. Add to that the dilemma of our Island — that there are few if any buildable lots in Vashon town, the only place where density is allowed — and the solution to the crisis of affordable housing seems elusive, at best.

It’s thus welcome news to learn that Vashon HouseHold, innovative, determined and resourceful, has once again stepped forward with a bold proposal. The nonprofit is seeking to purchase the tired but solid apartment complex behind the Vashon post office — an eyesore in some Islanders’ eyes, but a much-needed home to many of those who live there.

Should everything work according to plan, the aging structure will get a facelift, rents will fall, tenants will be screened — and Vashon will have scored yet another affordable, aesthetic and safe place for those who don’t make a mint to live.

There’s still a long road from here to there. The small nonprofit has a signed agreement with the building’s owner and has worked out the beginnings of a financing package. But the financing is not yet in hand; architectural designs still need to be created; closing is still three months away.

And some of the tenants who live at the Davis Freeman Apartments — as the complex behind the post office is called — are understandably nervous about what lies ahead. One, Dolly Pointer, says she’s begun praying regularly about her future; the tiny, one-bedroom unit where she has lived for 20 years is a home she’s come to love, she says.

But chances are good that people like Dolly Pointer will be able to remain in their apartments — and that they’ll find themselves in a much better situation as a result. And meanwhile, if there were any question about the need, consider the length of the wait lists at Vashon HouseHold’s other apartment buildings: 19 families are on the list for Eernisse; 15 for Charter House and 12 for JG Commons.

Let’s hope that Vashon HouseHold’s latest effort comes to fruition. It’s a fantastic step forward on an Island where our housing needs are great — and where, thankfully, our aspirations, determination and resourcefulness are great as well.

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