Friday, April 1, 2016

Volunteers of America celebrates grand opening of Juneau affordable development

News from NHC's family of members
by Radiah Shabazz, National Housing Conference

NHC member Volunteers of America (VOA) recently celebrated the opening of the Terraces at Lawson Creek, a new affordable housing development on Douglas Island in Juneau, Alaska. The project is managed by VOA, but received additional funding from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) and the Rasmuson Foundation.

Terraces at Lawson Creek
There are nearly 2,000 cost-burdened renters in Juneau paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing-related expenses. The Juneau Economic Development Council, using various methods for calculating the shortage of rental housing units, determined that the city needed between 170-230 rental housing units to reach five percent vacancy in 2012. “These factors were pertinent in our decision to build in this market,” said David Burch, VOA’s director of communications.  Phase one of the Terraces at Lawson Creek feature 40 units of affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The development also features an on-site community center. Groundbreaking for phase two is expected to take place in late spring and this next phase will create another 35 units of affordable housing.

Data from our annual “Housing Landscape” report shows that, in Alaska, 13 percent of households spend at least half their income on housing costs. Renters are more likely to be severely housing cost burdened, with 21 percent of renters spending more than half their income on housing-related costs. The Terraces at Lawson Creek will assist in ensuring that more people have access to affordable housing and more monthly income for other expenses.

Several dignitaries were present at the opening, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska); Juneau Mayor Mary Becker; Robin Keller, vice president, housing development, Volunteers of America; Diane Kaplan, CEO of the Rasmuson Foundation; Elaine Dahlgren, president/CEO of Volunteers of American Alaska; and Bryan Butcher, CEO of the AHFC.

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