GRANGEVILLE After more than a year of planning and discussions, the Affordable Housing Foundation (AHF) is planning to take action to help secure reasonably priced accommodations in the area.
Emily Johnson Musick of United Country Real Estate in Grangeville spoke about the group to the Grangeville Chamber of Commerce participants at the quarterly meeting April 28.
The board includes Musick, Earl Musick, Rick Musick, Marshall Hickman, Kurt Lothspeich of Gortsema Motors, Ken Lefsaker with Grangeville Builders, Lance and Eve McCulloch of The Gym, and Kim Bakie with Pine Tree Community Credit Union (PTCCU). They are also working in partnership with Dan Goehring of PTCCC and Raj Chahal of The Depot.
The mission statement of the group is “to promote affordable housing within the community. To keep and attract a viable workforce for the continual growth of jobs, industrial, manufacturing, logging, retail, healthcare, education and professional services.”
“There is not enough housing in Idaho County and specifically in the Grangeville area,” Emily said. “We are losing people, good employees, and potential business opportunities because of this.”
She stated that 62 percent of houses in Idaho County have been built prior to 1970 and that in 2005, only 4 percent of all houses were new.
“Turnover rate is very low and the average house for sale in Grangeville is 25 years or older,” she said.
The AHF board has pinpointed the types of housing needed are single family homes at $145,000 or less, 62 and older senior housing and multi-unit apartment buildings.
“Land is expensive here and the costs to build a home are astronomical compared to other places,” Emily said.
Chahal has agreed to sell up to 80 acres at 20 percent below the going rate to provide land for housing. He owns land on U.S. Highway 95 behind King’s. This price stipulation is part of a grant process the AFHG will work on as soon as enough seed money is raised to start. Seed money needed is $10,000 as an overseer and grant writer must be a paid position in order to ensure the process is completed correctly. It will also pay for Internet and office items that are needed to pursue the grants.
“The money is there and the federal government wants to give it to a rural area with growth potential such as Grangeville has,” she said. “We just have to have our ducks in a row to get it going for this round, which starts this summer.”
So far, $2,000 has been donated to the project and if the remainder — $8,000 – can be raised, the grant process will begin in June with plans to break ground in early 2017.
“I have several rentals and I continually have people calling me and asking for houses,” said Lance McColloch. “There just isn’t anything.” He said as part of Grangeville Planning and Zoning he knows the need, as well, and hopes the Grangeville City Council will get on board with the plan to start creating affordable housing.
Lothspeich said Gortsema’s recently lost an employee due to lack of housing and Lefsaker agreed few new houses are being built.
Rick Musick said he hopes to provide housing that will encourage businesses to come to Grangeville and create choices for local consumers.
“The best way for current businesses to stay in business is to have more stores open which will allow people to have more choices here and stay in town to shop,” he said.
It was discussed that local businesses as well as potential companies do not have the workforce they need here, but cannot have that workforce when there is nowhere for them to live.
“We want to attract businesses, which in turn will allow our kids to come back here and work,” Earl Musick said. “We want those talented young people to stay here or come back after college.”
It was stated housing is a problem for some of the larger businesses such as Syringa Hospital, the Forest Service, the mill and Advanced Welding.
“They have employees who want to live in Grangeville but cannot find anything,” Earl said. “People will eventually leave if they cannot houses their families.”
Those who wish to help with seed money for local affordable housing can talk to Emily Musick Johnson, 323 W. Main Street, Grangeville, 983-0069, Emily@MusickLandGroup.com. AHFG is in the process of acquiring its own 501(c)3 status but is currently under the umbrella of another organization.