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For immediate release

For more information contact:
Rhonda Rosenberg, Director of Communications
King County Housing Authority
(206) 574-1185

King County Housing Authority starts $3.85M stimulus project

ARRA funds will upgrade 59 apartments at 17 public housing complexes to comply with Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, preserve local constructi

Aug. 11, 2010

Work has begun on a $3.85 million project to modify 59 public housing units to be fully accessible to people with disabilities. The newly accessible units will be available in 17 housing complexes around King County. Work is being funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), intended to provide or preserve jobs across America. The money is part of a $4 billion boost for housing authorities nationwide to preserve and enhance the country’s public housing stock.

The project will convert selected units to comply with Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) with modifications to bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas to enable individuals who are mobility impaired, or have other physical disabilities, to live independently. Appliances, interior doors, and flooring will also be replaced.

“This initiative promotes quality of life, independence, and choice for people with disabilities,” said King County Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman. “Not only will this project create homes that are fully accessible in a variety of locations, it will also provide good paying construction jobs for the community.”

As the unemployment rate in the Puget Sound region hovers around 8.2 percent, these well-paying jobs will help reinvigorate the local economy. A study by the Econsult Corporation has measured the economic impact of capital investments in public housing. It shows that every construction dollar generates $2.12 in economic activity through job creation, spending by vendors and suppliers, purchase of goods and services, and consumer spending by workers.

Shawn Rhode, President of RAFN Company, the general contractor overseeing the UFAS conversion project, agrees. “The recession has been particularly tough on the construction industry” Rhode said. “Being able to retain good employees in this market has been difficult because of the steep drop off in available work. This KCHA project has helped us to retain 11 valued employees.”

Individuals and family members of all ages live with disabilities. Although rates of disability in King County are higher among adults aged 65 and older, more than 120,000 adults younger than 65 years old have a disability.

“We aspire to build a community where elders and adults with disabilities can live independently through their life span,” said Pam Piering, division director of the region’s Aging and Disabilities Services agency. “This project expands access to affordable housing for these individuals, regardless of impairment.”

Most of KCHA’s public housing was built in the 1960s and ‘70s, decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act recognized the importance of providing equal opportunities, including housing opportunities, to persons with disabilities. Thirty-eight of the accessible units will be located in complexes that house low-income seniors and persons with disabilities; the remaining 21 units are scattered at various family developments around the County. KCHA currently has 79 UFAS compliant units in its inventory. When this project is completed in the spring of 2011, nearly 5 percent of KCHA’s subsidized units will be UFAS compliant.

Previous work at a number of public housing sites addressed accessibility in entryways and common areas.

Architectural services are being provided by SHKS Architects, Lawhead Architects and Schemata Workshop. Major subcontractors for the project include Axis Construction for framing work; Enderis Company, Inc. for insulation and drywall installation; Best Plumbing Group LLC for plumbing services; and CES Electric Corporation for electrical work. About 38 workers from a variety of trades are expected to be employed on the project.

KCHA administers a range of quality affordable rental and homeownership programs in the Puget Sound region. The Authority serves more than 17,000 households on a daily basis.

Locations and number of units for UFAS upgrades

South King County

Wayland Arms  Auburn 3 units
Munro Manor Burien 3 units
Yardley Arms Burien 3 units
Evergreen Court* Federal Way 2 units
Southridge House Federal Way 6 units
Valli Kee Homes* Kent 4 units
Cascade Apartments* Kent 4 units
Riverton Terrace Tukwila 2 units
Brittany Park Normandy Park 2 units

East King County

College Place* Bellevue 3 units
Eastridge House Issaquah 3 units
Casa Juanita Kirkland 6 units
Juanita Trace* Kirkland 1 unit
Wells Wood* Woodinville 1 unit

North King County

Ballinger Homes* Shoreline 6 units
Northridge I Shoreline 5 units
Northridge II Shoreline 5 units

* Denotes family public housing

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