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County housing authority breaks ground on low-income senior apartments in Renton

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith was among speakers who stressed the need for affordable senior housing Friday at the groundbreaking for the King County Housing Authority
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith was among speakers who stressed the need for affordable senior housing Friday at the groundbreaking for the King County Housing Authority's 77-unit Vantage Point apartment complex in Renton.
— image credit: Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter

The King County Housing Authority broke ground Friday on Vantage Point, a 77-unit apartment development for low-income seniors in Renton that will help ease the housing crisis for some senior citizens.

The $18 million project is on land the housing authority owns next to the North Benson Shopping Center on the Benson Highway and next to its 164-household Vantage Glen community.

With 72 one-bedroom and five two-bedroom apartments, Vantage Point is expected to become home for about 120 residents, including some younger than 55 who have qualifying disabilities.

Vantage Point will open in late 2015 to new residents who are on the housing authority's wait list for a place to live. The 2,700 seniors on that list have an average annual income of $11,400, or about $950 a month, which is less than the average monthly apartment rent in Renton.

One-bedroom apartments at Vantage Point will rent for about $200 a month.

“There is a growing crisis in affordable housing for seniors,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority, the developer of Vantage Point senior apartments.

By 2025, the region will need more than 10,000 additional units of affordable housing for low-income seniors, according to a study.

A number of local, state and federal officials, including Renton City Council member Ed Prince and county Executive Dow Constantine, spoke at the event.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, who represents Renton in Congress, led off the guest speakers.

"We need a commitment at all levels of government and all levels of our community to make sure that we make affordable housing available to seniors. It's not just going to happen," he said, citing the expense of the region.

He said Vantage Point is a "great example" of government commitment to senior housing.

Financing for Vantage Point is coming from private funds, mostly in the form of federal low-income housing tax credits, and public dollars, including $2 million from King County's housing finance program.

The Tukwila-based housing authority is contributing $5 million, including the cost of the land.

Vantage Point will have two four-story wood-frame wings connected by a central common space. To encourage socialization and physical activities, the development will include gathering spaces, outdoor activity spaces, gently graded walking paths and community gardens.

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