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King County Housing Authority
King County Housing Authority finishes $2M ARRA project at Southridge House in Federal Way
Community celebration to be held on Oct. 15
Congressman Adam Smith, Federal Way Mayor Linda Kochmar, and King County Housing Authority staff will gather with residents of Southridge House on October 15 to celebrate the completion of $2 million in improvements to this 80-unit public housing complex for seniors and people with disabilities in Federal Way.
Funding for the project was awarded to KCHA in April 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The money is part of a $4 billion boost for housing authorities nationwide to preserve and enhance the country’s public housing stock.
“In addition to providing low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities with a quality and safe place to live, this important investment in public housing has also created jobs and helped our local economy” said Congressman Adam Smith. “This project is a win for Federal Way and a win for Southridge House.”
Southridge House, which was built in 1970, was in need of major building envelope work. Due to the porosity of the building’s brick exterior, moisture had migrated through the masonry to the structural rebar, causing corrosion. To preserve the integrity of the building, the exterior was sealed with a weather-resistant barrier and wrapped with a layer of rigid insulation, which was then covered with Hardie Board™ fiber cement siding as part of a rain screen system. The installation of new energy-efficient windows completed the improvements to the building envelope. In addition to preserving a vital affordable housing resource, the completed building façade looks more cheerful, attractive, and modern than the utilitarian brick it overlaid. As part of this project, six units at Southridge House are also being converted to full Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) with modifications to bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. This will enable disabled residents in wheelchairs and with mobility impairments to continue to live in their communities. The work will be finished in December 2010.
“We are committed to providing well-run housing that works well with the surrounding neighborhood and to maintaining the highest possible standards of safety and well-being for our community’s seniors and persons with disabilities,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. “Thanks to the ARRA funds we were able to get construction workers off the unemployment rolls, while at the same time extending the useful life of this critical affordable housing, reducing the costs its operation, and improving the quality of life for residents.”
Esther Stauffer, who has lived at Southridge House for 25 years, is pleased with the result. “The Housing Authority made a lot of really good improvements,” said the 90-year old Stauffer. “I especially like the new windows. The alcove window makes my living room feel so much bigger and lighter. And the way the outside was done is a lot prettier. It’s bright — but it’s what we needed and I think it’s really nice.”
Federal Way Mayor Linda Kochmar agrees. “This project is successful on a number of fronts: Southridge House residents get a more attractive and energy-efficient place to live; dozens of jobs were preserved as a result, and the local economy has gotten a shot in the arm from the purchases of goods and services procured by the workers on the project,” said Mayor Kochmar.
The initiative helped offset declining investment in the region due to the recession. A study by the Econsult Corporation has measured the economic impact of these kinds of projects. It showed that every dollar invested in public housing repairs generated $2.12 in economic return through job creation, spending by vendors and suppliers, purchases of goods and services, and consumer spending by workers.
Mike Ducey, president of W.G. Clark Construction Co., the general contractor for the project, experienced this firsthand. “This project has helped us through a significant downturn in the construction market,” said Ducey. “During the past couple of years, our overall number of employees has shrunk by nearly two-thirds. This project allowed us to retain employees who otherwise would have been laid off.” Ducey also noted that because this project was initiated during the low point in the economy, the pricing for the work was highly competitive. “KCHA got a very good value for the project,” Ducey added.
Architectural services were provided by ARC Architects. The electrical contractor was Active Engineering, L.A. Olsen Construction, Inc. installed the siding, and the stucco contractor was J.J. Jefferson. Centennial Moisture Control, Inc. installed the weather resistant barrier, and Picture Perfect Painting was the painting contractor. Windows were supplied by Milgard Manufacturing, Inc. More than 40 workers from a variety of trades were employed on the project. Work was completed in September, three months ahead of schedule. RAFN Company is overseeing the handicapped unit conversions, which started in late September. SKHS Architects is providing design services.
In 2009, KCHA received $23.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. These funds have enabled KCHA to swiftly and strategically tackle a backlog of deferred capital repairs and make energy-efficiency improvements to its public housing. By the time KCHA completes all of its ARRA projects, the agency will have employed more than 800 workers in a variety of trades and improved about 1,800 housing units.
The open house is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15 in the community room at Southridge House. Southridge House is located at 30838 14th Ave. South in Federal Way.