Vashon HouseHold will present the next in a series of planned meetings to discuss a proposed affordable housing project south of town at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at the Vashon Methodist church.
The county demonstration project, called Island Center Homes, is intended to serve 40 people, including seniors and those who are homeless or disabled. It has inspired conversations throughout the community about the rising cost of living on Vashon as well as changing the character of the island.
Supporters of the project stress the need for affordable housing on the island, while skeptics have cited concerns about density, rural development and water use.
Executive Director Chris Szala said King County officials from the Department of Community and Human Services will attend.
“A lot of [the meeting] will be repeating in some sense what the project is … and also updating where we are in the process,” said Szala.
Soil testing at the location chosen for the project south of downtown was underway on Tuesday, and an asbestos survey on the existing building at the site will be conducted soon.
Island Center Homes will consist of five energy-efficient, residential-style buildings, each with four micro-units — at approximately 330 square feet — on the lower and upper levels. The property is zoned for up to eight housing units per acre and was previously allotted five water units from Water District 19. The project will include a rain bank system to use runoff water for flushing toilets and irrigation.
“We’re trying to be as transparent as possible, and hopefully keep the rumor mill down as much as possible,” said Szala, noting that he is aware that some critics have expressed concern over the residents who will be living in the complex. He said that the development is intended to make a difference for the Vashon community and serve islanders with immediate housing needs as opposed to those in the greater Seattle area, reducing an island waitlist of over 100 people.
“We’re going to be working on this project, as [we have for] our others, with a geographic preference,” he said. “Our priority is always for islanders.”