Vancouver waives fees for nonprofit housing complexes

City council approves first waivers under current ordinance




The city council on Monday took steps toward offering more affordable housing in Vancouver by waiving about $275,000 in fees for two nonprofit housing complexes.

These are the first fee waivers under the current ordinance, according to Peggy Sheehan, community development grants manager. More projects are expected, including Meriwether Place, which will offer housing for homeless people who are chronically mentally ill.

The waivers keeps construction costs lower because those savings are passed on to the renters, according to Sheehan. The targeted rent for a one-bedroom apartment is between $600 and $700, but the developments will also offer two- and three-bedroom units.

The two developments, The Meadows and Sea Mar Community Health Center, sit near each other and have not yet begun construction. The Meadows is located at 3303 N.E. 78th Ave., and Sea Mar is located at 7803 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.

The housing is available to people whose income is at or below 60 percent of the average median income – or less than $36,500 per year, according to the most recent data.

Specifically, the city is waiving $275,338 in fees, money that would have gone toward transportation and parks.

In The Meadows development, 23 of the 30 units are reserved for people coming out of homelessness, according to Leah Greenwood of the Vancouver Housing Authority. She said she hopes the project serves as a successful model for other developments.

Sea Mar plans a six-story health care and apartment complex, offering medical and dental services on the first floor and 70 apartments on the upper five. The project includes 94 parking spaces. Sea Mar also owns affordable housing developments in Seattle and Pasco.

Both developments sit near a bus stop for The Vine, the city’s new bus rapid transit service between downtown Vancouver and Vancouver Mall.

The Meadows will cost about $8 million and is funded by donations, low-income housing tax credits, and the Washington State Housing Trust Fund.

Part of the ordinance for the waiver also requires the developers to provide low income housing indefinitely. They would be required to pay back all the waived fees if they decided to rent at market rates.

Jesus Sanchez, vice president for economic development and governmental affairs for Sea Mar, thanked the city council during a meeting Monday.

“Housing is the most important element of health care,” Sanchez said. “Having a home is the most important treatment of all.”

Will Campbell: 360-735-4507;