Photo by Marcy Stamper The Methow Housing Trust will build 11 affordable homes on this property in Twisp. Hank Konrad, co-owner of Hank’s Harvest Foods, left, and Danica Ready, executive director of the housing trust, have been working on solutions to the housing shortage in the Valley for a year.
Konrads offered a property in a favorable deal
Eleven affordable homes – ranging from one to four bedrooms – will be built next year in Twisp by the Methow Housing Trust (MHT), thanks to a recent below-market sale to the trust by Hank and Judy Konrad, owners of Hank’s Harvest Foods.
The sale of 12 “ready-made” lots on Riverside Avenue near the Twisp Public Works headquarters closed last week, MHT chief executive Danica Ready said. Due to the nature of the utility infrastructure, the lots will accommodate 11 homes.
The sale is the latest step in a partnership between MHT and the Konrads for nearly a year, Ready said. “Hank came to me last summer after a Housing Solutions Network meeting with an invitation to sell suitable MHT land for the construction of additional affordable single-family homes. After doing some basic due diligence on the ground, we decided it was a no-brainer,” Ready said.
Priced well below market value, the Konrad property was affordable — the housing trust bought the property for 55% of the appraised value, Ready said. Knowing that the Konrads intend to use the proceeds from the sale for another affordable housing project has made it a more meaningful partnership for the entire community, she said.
The property was particularly attractive as it already has all the infrastructure and water and sewer hookups, which means MHT can start construction next year, with the expectation that people will be able to move in in 2024, said Ready.
Many of their employees struggle to find affordable housing near Twisp, Hank Konrad said. Some drive in from Pateros or Lost River, and while he helps pay for fuel, he vows to do something more tangible to address the valley’s housing problem, Konrad said.
The Konrads purchased the lots on Riverside Avenue several years ago with the intention of building affordable homes there. But when construction costs increased, the project was put on hold.
Konrad knew MHT was interested in the property. “I felt I had enough going on,” he said, and with the land ready to build, it seemed like a good project to put off so he could focus on the other projects.
For one project, the Town of Twisp is considering a request from the Konrads to annex two properties along Highway 20 within the city limits to develop affordable housing.
“We’ve always been committed to helping with local housing, but we can’t do it alone,” Konrad said. “I have watched what Methow Housing Trust is doing with their scheme and I have two staff who already live in MHT homes in Twisp. They fill an important community need and we wanted to help them continue to successfully build more homes for people in the area as soon as possible. »
“The Konrads have been such leaders in housing for a long time. We are proud to have their trust and partnership on this project,” said Ready.
Permanently affordable housing
For the Riverside Avenue project, as with all other MHT homes, the landlord purchases the home and obtains a ground lease, while the housing trust retains ownership of the land. Home resale value is capped at a 1.5% increase per year to keep homes affordable in perpetuity, Ready said.
MHT plans to use some of the floor plans they are currently building at Winthrop and may incorporate new designs, Ready said.
MHT has a total of 26 homes completed and occupied across the valley, with another 11 expected to be completed in Winthrop next year.
MHT’s first neighborhood was built in Twisp, with 13 homes on Canyon Street. Since then, the housing trust has built 11 homes in Winthrop at Cascade Meadows South, across from the post office, and eight in Mazama in the McKinney Ridge development. The Riverside Avenue property will add 11 more homes.
MHT is currently developing infrastructure for 26 homes at Cascade Meadows North in Winthrop, with homes scheduled for completion from 2024 to 2027. This will bring the total number of permanent MHT affordable homes to 74, Ready said.
MHT also has a partnership with the Okanogan County Housing Authority, which is building 22 rental units in Cascade Meadows North.
MHT neighborhoods are home to a variety of community members, including bakers, store clerks, artists, small business owners, educators, and healthcare workers.
MHT eligibility criteria are tied to area median income (AMI). The AMI for Okanogan County is currently $48,258, according to the regional labor economist for the Washington State Department of Employment Security. Initially, only people doing 100% or less of the AMI qualified for MHT homes, but, as the organization found itself turning away people who had no other viable options in the local market housing, the MHT council has widened the criteria so that a quarter of their homes can be sold to people earning up to 150% of the AMI, Ready said.
In these cases, the housing price is adjusted for those who earn more money, but if one of these houses is resold, it will be offered to the next person on their list and its price will be based on the income of this person – that is, she won will not be set at a higher price in perpetuity, Ready said.
Based on current MHT policy and pricing, Ready projects Riverside Avenue homes will start at $180,000 for a 2-bedroom home for someone earning AMI or less. For people earning between 100 and 150% of the AMI, the same house would cost $240,000.
In 2021, the median home price in the Methow Valley was half a million dollars. A two-person household in the Valley would need to earn more than double the median income to buy a home in the regular real estate market, according to MHT.
Currently, a one-person household could earn between $2,765 and $6,913 in gross monthly income — and have up to $44,240 in assets — to qualify for an MHT home. All criteria are based on household size and there are adjustments for retirees.
There are currently 57 individuals and families on MHT’s waiting list. As homes are completed, they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Information and applications for MHT houses are available at https://methhowhousingtrust.org. Anyone interested can arrange an interview to verify their eligibility. MHT helps connect applicants with lenders familiar with the community housing trust model.
Ready encouraged people to apply. “A lot of people are surprised they qualified,” she said.