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King County Housing Authority
Wonderland Estates: KCHA board approves financial transaction for up to $4 million in infrastructure and common space improvements at mobile home park
The board of commissioners of the King County Housing Authority recently authorized a financing package to renovate Wonderland Estates. The financing uses a combination of federal tax benefits to investors along with state, county and KCHA resources. The transaction allows KCHA to leverage up to $4 million in private equity for infrastructure and common space improvements at the mobile home park.
Wonderland Estates, a 109-space mobile home park, is located just east of Renton off the Maple Valley Highway. KCHA purchased it in December 2007 at the request of King County. At the time, the mobile home park was being closed for redevelopment into for-sale homes or condominiums. Had the Authority been unable to acquire the property, residents of the park, most of whom are seniors on fixed incomes, would have been displaced, likely forcing many of them into homelessness.
“We’re very pleased to have been able to find a way to finance the improvements to Wonderland Estates,” said KCHA Board Chair Nancy Holland-Young. “This work will ensure that Wonderland continues to be a valuable housing resource for low-income seniors for the next 50 years.”
Extensive improvements to Wonderland’s aging infrastructure will begin later this year. New utility systems including water, sewer, electrical, phone, and cable will be installed. Existing streets will be torn out and replaced and new street lighting put in. The storm water drainage system will be completely replaced. New siding and windows will upgrade the exterior of the park’s community building. Interior renovations will include a new heating system, accessibility improvements (ADA) and a new laundry facility. Work is expected to be completed by summer 2012.
King County was instrumental in the effort to preserve the park. It provided
$2 million to the housing authority help purchase the park, as well as a loan guarantee that has enabled the Authority to obtain third party financing to pay for additional costs.
“By working together, we are preserving homes for seniors who might otherwise have become homeless,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Instead of seeing mobile homes carted off to the landfill, we will witness the renovation of Wonderland Estates and ensure this close-knit community can have an affordable place to live and a good place to call home for years to come.”
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn supported public funding to save and invest in the park. Said Councilmember Dunn, “First, government worked to preserve the homes of seniors who likely would have become homeless had their park been sold to a private developer. Now, we’re working together to improve the living conditions and insure continued affordability for homeowners of limited means. I applaud the King County Housing Authority for their collaborative approach and continued focus on improving the lives of these seniors.”
Washington State’s Housing Trust Fund also provided $3.5 million for KCHA to acquire and improve Wonderland Estates.
Dan McConnon, deputy director for Community Services and Housing of the state Department of Commerce said that the agency is pleased to support this local effort. “Mobile home communities provide an increasingly rare opportunity for low-income households to own their own home,” said McConnon. “When completed, the improvements to Wonderland Estates will make it an even better place to live – and affordable as well.”
The park renovations are expected to greatly improve the appearance of the community and thus its appeal to prospective homeowners.
Since lack of financing is the biggest impediment to mobile home purchases, KCHA is also partnering with the Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) to provide low-interest loans to finance the purchase of mobile homes for qualified low-income seniors.
Low-income seniors (over age 55) interested in acquiring a home and moving into Wonderland Estates are encouraged to call Donna Cleveland, site manager, at 425-255-8240.
KCHA administers a range of quality affordable rental and homeownership programs for residents of King County. The Authority serves more than 18,000 households daily including family, elderly and disabled households. There are more than 8,000 households living in mobile home parks in King County. Many are threatened with closure. Preservation of existing affordable housing is a core mission for the Authority.