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Enumclaw may soon be site of affordable housingBy Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Enumclaw residents down on their luck will have some much-needed housing options, if a plan hatched by the city's Housing Task Force comes to fruition.

Task Force members are hoping 16 units - currently listed for sale - can be purchased. The task force, with the backing of Enumclaw city government, has asked the King County Housing Authority to make the purchase.

Bob Baer, director of the city's Community Services Department, went before members of the Enumclaw City Council last month, explaining the situation. He reported a single property - containing four, four-plex units - had gone on the market within the city limits. The city task force had already provided details to the county agency, he said, and the county was involved in negotiations with the property owner.

The Housing Task Force is a fairly new group in Enumclaw, charged with identifying affordable housing needs in the city, as well as potential remedies.

Alison Haseman, who chairs that group, confirmed there's a definite need for affordable housing, and explained the two roles such a property could fill. There's a segment of the Enumclaw population, she said, that finds itself homeless and requires short-term housing in an emergency situation. A second group would be those who need affordable housing for a longer time, while they get their lives in order. This could include families where a parent is under-employed and unable to pay the type of rents found in Enumclaw.

The 16 units being considered, Haseman said, would meet both needs.

Haseman was quick to point out the current proposal would be designed strictly for permanent Enumclaw residents. The task force is hoping to make it clear the project is not aimed at attracting transient families to the city.

If the property is secured, Baer reported, the current 16, two-bedroom units would be reconfigured to 14 units; two of those would have three bedrooms to accommodate larger families. Ten of the units would be managed as affordable housing, he said, while the remaining four would be designated for "transitional housing." Income from the 10 would help support the other four, he said.

The city offered a letter of support and forwarded it to the King County Housing Authority. Currently, city officials and members of the Housing Task Force are awaiting a response from the county.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com

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