County plans housing in Oak Harbor

Island County officials are looking for someone to build an affordable housing project.

Island County officials are looking for someone to build an affordable housing project on county-owned property in the city of Oak Harbor.

Earlier this month, county commissioners decided to publish a request for qualifications from a developer or a nonprofit organization interesting in building housing for the county.

The county purchased a seven-acre property on Oak Harbor Street in 2018. A $6-million stabilization center, to treat people suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems, was built on 1.64 acres. County commissioners hope to build apartments on the adjacent parcel.

Commissioners discussed the proposal during a workshop. They made it clear that they don’t want the county to own the housing or become a landlord but are looking for a private entity to take it on. The county may spend a portion of the $16.5 million it received from the American Rescue Plan Act funds on the project.

The commissioners have said that affordable housing is the top priority for the federal stimulus funds. The property is zoned R-3, multi-family residential, which allows for a maximum density of 16 units per gross acre. That means a maximum of 80 units would be allowed.

According to county documents, the project will include a community room as well as spaces for supportive services, classes and recreation. The county hopes that the organization will be able to leverage other funding sources, such as the state Housing Trust Fund or low-income housing tax credits.

The project is meant for low-income or working-class families, although the county hasn’t decided on an income level qualification yet.

Anyone with questions can contact Joanne Pelant, county housing supervisor, at i.pelant@islandcountywa.gov or 360-678-7962.

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