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Othello low-income development gets $1.5M grant

by GABRIEL DAVIS
Staff Writer | February 1, 2024 5:49 PM

OTHELLO —  The Othello Housing Authority and Adams County Building and Planning were awarded $1.5 million toward the Othello Rocky Point Development low-income housing project, according to a Tuesday announcement from the Washington Department of Commerce.

Othello Housing Authority Executive Director Angelina Gomez spoke about being awarded the grant.

“We are actually working with the Adams County Building and Planning department and that grant goes to them for the purposes of infrastructure (fees), like the water, the sewer, the roads and all that,” Gomez said, “and that's for them to help with improvements for affordable housing.”

Building and Planning was the agency officially listed as the grant recipient, as it is conducting the processes funded by the grant, which comes from the federal Connecting Housing to Infrastructure Program. According to the announcement, the grants help local governments reduce per-unit connection fees, which are used to pay for area-wide improvements to municipal sewer, water and stormwater systems. 

The grants also pay for the underground infrastructure, such as water and sewer pipes, and to reimburse system infrastructure charges paid by housing developers. According to the statement, CHIP prioritizes applications based on criteria including affordability, project readiness, and consistency with growth management principles.

Gomez elaborated on Rocky Point, which will be developed on land south of P.J. Taggares Park. 

“We're in the process of building a 40-unit, multifamily housing (development) here in Othello. The property’s name is Rocky Point. We haven't started construction yet, but we're still working through the (State Environmental Policy Act) process, the (Planned Residential Development) process, so we're still working on that,” Gomez said. “We've been working for about two years on this project.”

The development is near the Housing Authority’s existing Lugar Seguro migrant worker housing; the property’s name means “Safe Place” in Spanish.

“We've been looking at that area to construct more seasonal farmworker housing,” Gomez said, “but we decided, ‘hey, let's try multi-family housing,’ because we actually really do need more housing here in Othello.”

Gomez said the grant was fairly competitive. According to the list of recipients, the majority were larger cities or projects. The announcement stated the appropriation for this funding cycle, 2023 to 2025, is a total of $55 million and Commerce received 74 applications and a total of $79 million in requested aid.

“We had applied for (the last round), I think it was about a year and a half ago, and we didn't get the grant for the reason that we weren't shovel-ready,” she said. 

Gomez outlined the potential timeline for the development. 

“We are thinking of starting construction in June of this year,” she said. “I think it would take about a year (to finish).

There are not very many low-income housing units available in Othello, Gomez said, and Rocky Point is the Housing Authority’s primary development at the moment, making the grant a significant benefit to the project. 

“I think it is a big deal because here in Othello we are in need of low-income and affordable housing,” Gomez said. “Our waiting list, it's around a two- to three-year waiting period, and most of these families are living in housing that is not in good condition, that’s deteriorating, with families doubling up, so this project will really help the city of Othello.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com. Davis lives in Othello where enjoys going to church and spending time with family.

    The land south of P.J. Taggares Park where the Othello Housing Authority will construct a 40-unit multi-family low-income housing development in the near future.
 
 
    Exterior of the Othello Housing Authority’s offices on Third Avenue in Othello. The Washington Department of Commerce awarded the Housing Authority’s Rocky Point low-income housing project $1.5 million to reduce infrastructure fees.