Dozens of families facing eviction learned Friday that the King County Housing Authority had stepped in to purchase their apartment complex in Bellevue to retain for low-income residents.
Dozens of low-income families facing eviction from their apartments in Bellevue won’t have to leave their homes after all.
King County Housing Authority notified the 76 residents of the Highland Village apartments Friday evening that it had reached an agreement with a developer who had planned to turn the property into 87 town homes, selling from $650,000 to $900,000 each.
“For a private business to change its plans in response to community concerns and forgo substantial future financial gain is extraordinary,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the Housing Authority.
A number of local governments, including Bellevue, King County and the Legislature, committed housing funds to help the Housing Authority purchase the apartment buildings. The property is appraised at $14 million, according to the King County Assessor. The purchase price was $20 million, Norman said.
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Calls to Seattle-based Intracorp weren’t answered Friday night.
Residents were notified in May that the apartment complex, 12 buildings on 4.5 acres between downtown and Crossroads shopping center, would be torn down and replaced by high-end local builder, Intracorp.
The city of Bellevue said that the mostly Latino residents were given until Oct. 31 to move out and offered $3,500 each to help pay relocation costs.
But with average rents in Bellevue now about $1,930, families faced a difficult search for anything affordable in the area. The rents at Highland Village are about $1,200 a month. About 85 children, many enrolled in Bellevue public schools, live with their families in the complex.
“Housing prices on the Eastside are skyrocketing,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, who lives in the East Bellevue neighborhood. “Losing the Highland Village apartments would have meant hardship for these families. I’m really excited they get to stay.”
The Housing Authority told residents that it will survey the condition of each unit and prioritize repairs, once it acquires the apartments in early September. It estimated the renovations could take up to two years.
The authority also reassured residents at a meeting at Stevenson Elementary School Friday that most, if not all, of the families will meet the income requirements to stay. A family would have to be earning more than about $48,000 a year to no longer qualify for the housing, Norman said.
The Housing Authority promised to keep rents at or near their current levels.
The threat of eviction of a large number of low-income families came just as the Bellevue City Council was studying how to add and preserve more housing for the city’s many retail workers, recent college graduates and seniors.
According to a report prepared for the City Council council earlier this year, about 17 percent of Bellevue households earn less than $44,000 a year but only 6 percent of the housing is affordable to them.
The council expects to identify strategies to develop and retain affordable housing by December. Bellevue leaders have said they want to preserve single-family neighborhoods while developing housing options affordable to residents across all income levels, including low- and moderate-income.
Fifteen Eastside cities contribute annually to ARCH, A Regional Coalition for Housing, a government agency that pools money and works with affordable-housing providers to build and preserve housing.
But while Seattle just voted to renew its housing levy, doubling the amount raised annually to more than $40 million a year, the Eastside cities’ contributions to the ARCH trust fund totals about $1.5 million annually, an amount that has remained flat over the past decade.
Information in this article, originally published Aug. 5, 2016, was corrected Aug. 6, 2016. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of families who were to lose their homes before the King County Housing Authority arranged to buy the building.