Last week, the King County Housing Authority completed the Nia Apartments, its first new public housing for seniors and disabled residents in 26 years. One week later, it is fully leased.
The new 82-unit, four-story apartment complex, which is located in the Greenbridge community in White Center, offers residents spacious, light-filled apartments with well-appointed kitchens. Each apartment home comes with a patio or deck. The property also features a comfortable community room with a fireplace, a computer room with Internet access, raised bed gardens and a full-sized greenhouse. The building is completely smoke-free.
Nia sits on Eighth Avenue Southwest, the main street of the Greenbridge community. Retail businesses are planned for the first floor. Across the street, the YWCA will open a new adult learning center and the King County Public Library will open a new branch library in November. One block away, the Puget Sound Educational Service District will break ground next month on a Head Start facility to serve the neighborhood’s many young children.
“While we’re thrilled that this beautiful new property has proven so appealing, what this really speaks to is the need for more affordable housing for seniors in King County,” said King County Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman. “In the current market, seniors who rely solely on Social Security must pay 80 percent of their monthly income to rent an average apartment. Without an increase in housing for poor elders on fixed incomes, this is a prescription for homelessness.”
The average annual income of the tenants at Nia is $10,200.
Using a conservative estimate Aging and Disability Services and local government agencies project the number of seniors living in poverty in King County will increase to 22,076 in 2016, up from 16,825 in 2006. Currently, public housing and Section 8 subsidies support almost one half of the seniors in King County with incomes less than the 2008 federal poverty threshold ($10,400 for a household of one; $14,000 for a household of two people). To provide subsidized housing for this same percentage of the program’s low-income elderly households in 2016 would require that 2,491 additional public housing units or Section 8 vouchers be provided over the next eight years. Far fewer units are actually in the pipeline.
“The astonishingly quick lease-up action at Nia affirms the growing need for affordable housing for seniors and persons with disabilities,” said Norman. “They will come, if only we can build it.”
KCHA administers a range of quality affordable rental and homeownership programs for residents of King County. The Authority serves more than 18,000 families, elderly and disabled households on a daily basis.
King County Housing Authority
Director of Communications
Rhonda Rosenberg, 206-574-1185