Families ready to move into farm worker housing
- Holly M. Gill
- Madras Pioneer - Sports
Canyon East Apartments
Seven families are already approved, and expected to begin moving into the long-awaited Canyon East Apartments this week.
The 24-unit, low-income farm worker housing complex, located on Jefferson Street, just west of U.S. Highway 97, has taken just over a year to construct, but has long been a dream for local officials.
City and county officials first contemplated major change for the area in 2003, when they toured the neighborhood and saw dilapidated trailers and a failed sewer system.
In 2004, Housing Works, the local housing authority, became involved, and the following year, put together funding to purchase three properties to remove blight and change the face of the neighborhood.
The city annexed the properties and extended sewer to the area, but it took five more years for Housing Works to secure partners and funding for the $3.2 million project, which broke ground in September 2010.
"They're some of the nicest units we have in any of our portfolios," said Keith Wooden, director of development for Housing Works, as he walked through the finished units last week.
"For an apartment complex, the finishes and design are substantially better than any you'd find in the local rental market," he said, noting that each apartment has a tiled entry, which will serve as a mud room, concrete stairways and second-story composite decks.
Throughout the development, floors are a wood-look vinyl, bedrooms and stairways are carpeted, and all units are equipped with heat pumps, high-efficiency washers and dryers in a laundry closet, and outdoor storage closets.
Three of the units -- one two-bedroom, one three-bedroom, and one four-bedroom -- will be set up to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The large common room, which is set up with a kitchen area, will have a television, seating area, computer room hooked up to the Internet, and restrooms -- all of which will be available to residents for events, such as birthday celebrations.
Solar panels on the roof of one of the units will tie into the community room, to defray about 60 percent of the room's electrical costs.
Outside, the landscaping is drought-tolerant. Amenities include a playground, benches, basketball hoop for half-court basketball, and a partial trail on the east side of the complex, which will eventually connect to the city's trail system.
To be eligible for the apartments, applicants must live in the area, and make a minimum of $4,500 per year from farm labor, but do not need to be full-time farm workers.
Rent is tied to the farm worker's income, which can be up to 80 percent of the area's median income. For example, a family of four can earn up to $46,000 per year.
The eight two-bedroom units, which are 919 square feet, will rent for a base rate of $555; the 12 three-bedroom units, at 1,276 square feet, will rent for up to $615; and the four four-bedroom units, at 1,553 square feet, for up to $695. Most rents will be subsidized, depending on the family's income.
Housing Works pays for the water, sewer, garbage and common room electricity for the units.
On Saturday, Housing Works held an application event to help fill the apartments, according to Lesly Veliz, leasing agent for Housing Works.
"We had quite a bit of families," said Veliz, noting that they had live music, food and a bounce-house for the event, which drew 30 to 40 people. "Everybody was excited to tour the units."
A subsidiary of Housing Works, Epic Property Management, will manage the apartment complex. The management company also maintains the 20 single-family duplex and triplex homes of the Menta Park low-income housing development scattered in neighborhoods throughout Madras.
The onsite manager for the apartments will be moving in this week, according to Veliz, who can be reached at 541-420-7765, for more information.