ST. GEORGE – A general plan amendment approved by the City Council last week is paving the way for a proposed affordable housing complex on the east side of St. George.
Called the RiverWalk Village, the three-story, 55-unit complex will provide affordable housing to those who qualify.
The property the complex is slated to be built upon is a 4.7 acre parcel just east of Millcreek High School and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel on 2200 East off Riverside Drive. It will also sit behind a larger high-density development called Grayhawk.
The project is being spearheaded by the Friends of Switchpoint, the nonprofit group that also runs the Switchpoint Community Resource Center. Opened two years ago, Switchpoint has garnered recognition and praise from state and federal-level officials for its work in helping the homeless and impoverished become more independent.
Part of that independence involves helping clients move beyond temporary housing at Switchpoint and into more permanent, yet affordable housing.
The RiverWalk Village will provide supportive services for those who are able to take advantage of the housing there once the complex is built and open, which officials hope to be in 2018.
Apartment units at the RiverWalk Village will be a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-room apartments, said Troy Dutson, of the Friends of Switchpoint and senior property developer for Northwest Real Estate Capital. The company is partnered with the nonprofit to build the complex.
“So (we’ll have) some pretty big-sized family units that we are looking at,” Duston said. “That’ll be really good to have affordable space for families.”
Helping to find Switchpoint clients affordable housing hasn’t been easy, even for those who work full-time. They, along with others who may qualify for affordable housing or may simply be looking for an apartment to rent regardless of circumstance, may not be having much luck in the current market, according to a report from commercial real estate firm NAI Excel.
Vacancy for multifamily housing in St. George currently stands at less than 0.1 percent, according to the NAI Excel report. Demand has outstripped supply and the average rent for an apartment has also gone up. In 2010, monthly rent for a two bedroom, two bath apartment was $690, which has risen to an average of $848 today.
“This is a really needed project,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.
Hughes, who also sits on the St. George Housing Authority, said the group has issued low-income housing vouchers that are typically filled as people are able to find housing. However, that hasn’t been the case lately.
“People who are awarded these vouchers are unable to find properties that fit that low-income range because there is such a shortage,” Hughes said.
Individuals who move from Switchpoint, as well as those who are able to qualify for low-income housing, will be able to take advantage of the RiverWalk Village once it is completed, said Carol Hollowell, Switchpoint CRC’s executive director.
“The affordable housing project will be open to anyone that qualifies, not just Switchpoint clients,” Hollowell said in an email. “All services provided at RiverWalk will be open to all living there as well as the ability to access any services at Switchpoint.”
Work on the project is hoped to start in early 2017, Hollowell said. This hinges on a successful application for federal funding, which Hollowell said she is confident will be granted.
The overall project is estimated to run around $10 million, Dutson said.
Much of that cost could potentially be covered by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits program. The program has funded nearly three million affordable housing unit since 1987.
The program has given allocating agencies “the equivalent of nearly $8 billion in annual budget authority to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of rental housing targeted to lower-income households,” according to its website.
“That’s our goal,” Dutson said,” to provide more affordable housing. There is a great need in our community.”
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