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Nonprofit to purchase low-income housing properties

St. Vincent de Paul finalizing merger with Housing First

Posted: December 6, 2013 - 1:08am

St. Vincent de Paul of Juneau will use grant money to purchase two apartment buildings that will serve as low-income housing.

Channel Terrace, a 22-unit building in Douglas, and Dusty Trails, a 32-unit building in Haines, will be added to the nonprofit’s affordable rental properties. St. Vincent de Paul currently manages low-income, permanent housing at Paul’s Place, Channel View Apartments, MacKinnon Apartments and Smith Hall. Tenants must meet income qualifications set by the United Stated Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“With these two acquisitions, we will have a total of 178 apartments in eight different buildings, all but 32 in Juneau,” said Dan Austin, St. Vincent de Paul general manager.

The eight buildings include two it has acquired through a merger with Housing First, Inc., a local nonprofit that has run for 20 years solely on community support, plus the work of one staff member, former Executive Director Jen LaRoe. The merger has been in the works since early 2012 and is being finalized now.

LaRoe said she’s looking forward to what the organizations can accomplish together. As a one-woman show with little funding, it was difficult to get as much done as she wanted to, she said. The affordable housing organization operated Hillview Apartments and Strasbaugh Place. 

“I think Housing First really needed to make a shift into a new model,” said LaRoe, now the director of housing and development for St. Vincent de Paul. “We found St. Vincent de Paul to be doing similar work.”

There are about 750 low-income housing units in the City and Borough of Juneau, according to the Juneau Economic Development Council’s 2012 Housing Needs Assessment. Austin said there are about 2,400 Juneau families that qualify for low-income housing based on the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

“Since Juneau was founded, we have always experienced a housing shortage,” he said.

The organization will begin renovations of Channel Terrace and Dusty Trails in May, Austin said. The properties will probably be ready January 2015, he said.

St. Vincent de Paul decided to purchase Channel Terrace because it has reached “the end of its restriction period,” Austin said. The building has already been operating as low-income housing through a private owner, but if an interested party hadn’t stepped up to continue it, low-income families could have lost it as an option, he said.

“Not only do we need to build more affordable housing in this town, we need to make darn sure the ones we have we don’t lose,” Austin said.

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