Habitat for Humanity to develop affordable housing for senior citizens, families in Olympia

Senior citizens are facing a housing shortage—what some researchers are calling a quiet, or invisible crisis.  Over the next decade, the number of elderly homeless Americans is projected to triple, and that was before COVID-19 hit. 

The City of Olympia owns 10 acres of land on 3900 Boulevard Road and wants to use it to address housing gaps in affordability, stability and variety for senior citizens and families. The city chose South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity to help fulfill the growing housing need in the region.

"Homeownership is an opportunity to leave a legacy," said Carly Colgan, CEO of South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity. "For seniors, this is an opportunity that for them to own something to pass into their children for future generations."

The non-profit serves people who make 30 % to 80% of the area's median income. 

"There is not affordable homeownership opportunities in our community. So, there are folks out there who can go to the bank and get a mortgage for $250,000 and that approval. But there’s nothing in Thurston County that they would be able to purchase. That’s where we are able to step in and meet that demand and provide opportunities for folks to get into in affordable homeownership that wouldn’t otherwise have that chance," said Colgan.

City officials said Habitat for Humanity’s proposal for the space aligned with the Olympia Housing Action Plan, creating the perfect partnership to develop 100 to 110 townhomes and senior cottages. This will address housing gaps caused by the rising prices for homes in the region, especially senior citizens and families who depend on fixed incomes.

"When we talk about the fixed income and the level of income that folks have, and then the rising costs of everything, seniors are one of the demographics that is priced out fast, very quickly. And there aren’t options that they have to be able to find places to live," said Colgan. 

More than 50% of the houses will be ADA accessible. This will be Habitat for Humanity’s largest development ever in Thurston County. It’s small step towards a solution to the housing crisis in the region.

"I think that legacy piece of homeownership and the stability of knowing that the price of rent is not going to increase every year makes a big difference, gives a little bit of peace of mind and builds a community," said Colgan. "We have recognized for a while now this gap in senior housing on our community. And to be able to fill that in a small way is a really exciting opportunity for us."

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