By Aaron West

The Bulletin

Housing Works, the public housing authority for Central Oregon, is looking to break ground in July on a new affordable housing project in Redmond aimed toward seniors.

Planning on the project, a 48-unit multilevel apartment building called Cook Crossing, has been underway for several years. At the Redmond City Council meeting this week, the site where the project will be built — a 1.23-acre lot directly south of Lowe’s Home Improvement — was rezoned to allow for the higher density that Cook Crossing will require. That rezoning item, along with a couple land use variances that council members signed off on, were the last steps before construction can begin later this summer. The project is expected to be ready for residents by next summer.

“For senior citizens on fixed income, they really have no alternative,” Geoff Wahl, Housing Works finance director, said at the meeting after pointing to rising rents in Redmond and a rental-vacancy rate under 2 percent. “It’s leave the area, find a friend to move in with or virtually all of their income will go toward housing costs. Tonight we have an opportunity to give those people some hope.”

The new project will be a 57,346-square-foot, multilevel apartment complex with 12 two-bedroom units and 36 one-bedroom units, according to meeting documents. Wahl said the one-bedroom units will rent for $451 per month and the two-bedroom units will rent for $547 per month.

“Even if market rents continue to increase, these will stay as what they open up with,” Wahl said. “They’re 30 to 40 percent below the market rate, so it leaves residents with more money.”

A Mosaic Medical clinic is planned for the first floor of the building, Wahl said, which will give the residents immediate access to health care. Other planned features and benefits of the project include hospice services and events for residents with serious illnesses, Oregon Department of Human Services help for residents with long-term health issues, as well as partnerships with Oregon State University, Dial-A-Ride and the Redmond School District.

Regarding these partnerships, Wahl said OSU-Cascades’ nutrition education program will come to Cook Crossing to provide workshops and classes on healthy eating and cooking. Also, Housing Works is working with the school district to set up a program called Adopt a Grandparent that would create mentorship opportunities by pairing up students and Cook Crossing residents for activities and outings. The Dial-A-Ride partnership will see every resident provided with a free ride pass.

“They’ll have free transportation for wherever they need to go,” Wahl said.

The apartments will be available to low- and moderate-income people age 55 and older, even though Wahl said residents most likely will be older than 70, judging from similar Housing Works properties. For someone living in a one-bedroom apartment, his or her income must be $20,900 a year or less, Wahl said. For a two-person household in a two-bedroom apartment, the annual income should be $23,900 or less.

Applications to live at Cook Crossing are not yet available, but Wahl said public notice will be given. Residents will be chosen via a lottery system, he said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,