April 27, 2011
Families are leaving Leavenworth. 32 children have left Cascade School District in the past 2 months alone. The main culprit, according to Superintendent Steve McKenna, is Leavenworth’s lack of affordable housing.
Further evidence of the effects of expensive home prices can be found in the latest census data. UV MEND Board President John Agnew said Leavenworth was the only town in the county to drop in population. It declined 5.3% between 200 and 2010.
The solution, according to UV MEND, is an ambitious affordable housing project between Titus Rd and Chumstick highway. Executive Director Brian Thompson-Royer led a presentation at last night’s city council meeting that outlined a modified development plan, which is a bit more modest that the plan first introduced over a year ago. Still, up to 25 units of affordable housing could be breaking ground as soon as 2012.
Thompson-Royer said the affordable housing units would be vital to the future sustainability of Leavenworth, and the multi-million dollar construction project would be a short term boon for the area economy.
But there is quite a lot of money still to be raised. UV MEND is seeking about $1.5 million total from the city of Leavenworth to pay the cost of running utilities to the affordable housing units.
Councilman Peter Devries commended the group for successfully raising funds for the planning phase of the project. But Devries said the next big hurdle is actually raising the funds for construction costs. Devries said in the current economic climate it would be impossible for the city to take $1.5 million out of the budget to cover utilities costs for all phases of the development.
But the city did renew its commitment to partner with UV MEND to seek out the funding from other sources. Mayor Rob Eaton remained optimistic about the project’s prospects.