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Poulsbo affordable housing development loses funding

POULSBO — The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority’s (KCCHA) self-help housing program is taking a hard hit in the budget process, one that is blasting the next planned development in Little Norway.

The Summerset development, a neighborhood slated for both self-help housing and regular market homes, has been taken off the table after the release of the Federal Housing and Community Development Programs budget appropriations.

In 2008 the programs affiliated with self-help mortgage and staffing funds were given $1.1 billion, but were shocked down to zero for 2009, affectively shutting down KCCHA’s Poulsbo plans.

KCCHA Public Affairs Specialist Torie Brazitis said the news is a true shame, especially because the Housing Authority’s presence in Poulsbo has long been a positive one.

“What’s really sad is that it’s Poulsbo. We’ve had such a great success with Vetter (Homestead),” she said, adding the mayor and city council have been tremendously supportive, and the agency works “really closely and very well with the city.”

Vetter Homestead — which will continue as planned — is another KCCHA self-help building development in Poulsbo where homeowners with pre-approved incomes can put in “sweat equity” hours by helping construct their home and the homes of their neighbors instead of offering up a large down payment.

It joins ranks with the city’s other self-help developments, Austrubruin and Whitney’s Glen.

Brazitis said the KCCHA program gets its funding from the federal budget and a grant. The money they had set aside for the Summerset development will now be used to purchase a smaller, 18-lot parcel for homes in Port Orchard.

Acting Single Family Housing Director Casey Pleskun said the agency did not want to go forward with Summerset without sure funding, and instead is being prudent and cautious in the face of budget woes.

He said the agency still has a large waiting list of families hoping to enter the self-help home building process.

Summerset was originally greeted with great support from Vetter residents. The two developments would have been adjacent to one another. Thirty Vetter Homesteaders championed the additional neighborhood at a December 2007 Poulsbo planning commission meeting. The area would have held 128 houses. Also planned for the development was a veritable kids’ paradise, with exercise stations, picnic areas, trails, basketball courts and a gazebo. More than 25 percent of the plat was alloted open space.

“We’re still going to be looking really hard (for land) in Poulsbo,” Brazitis said.

She said the agency is now hoping U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D- Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D- Bainbridge) take a stand for the program.

The released budget is not yet set in stone.

“They’ve been really big supporters so we’re hoping something good can come out of this,” she said of Murray and Inslee, adding the Housing Authority is in the business of building homes, and values good congressional advocates.

She encourages any self-helper to give one of the representatives a call and share their stories to help communicate the importance of the program.

To find contact information for the representatives, visit:

• murray.senate.gov

• www.house.gov/inslee.

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