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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
The Ketchikan Indian Community on Friday unveiled seven new units that have been constructed in Ketchikan for low-income Native American families in need of housing.
The apartment complex at 1409 Jackson St. is composed of seven units — five two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units.
There was a grand opening event on Friday afternoon and a number of interested parties and supporters of KIC showed up to tour the new units.
Joel Azure, development manager for KIC, told the Daily News that the effort to get the new apartments built was part of a larger effort between a number of groups and government agencies, even noting that the Federal Highway Administration paid for the parking lot.
“The funding came from Housing and Urban Development, through the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act, also through something called the supplemental grant program that’s funded by the state Legislature and through Gov. Walker’s office,” Azure said, “It’s really a combination of federal, state and local levels to make this work.”
Gov. Bill Walker was invited to attend Friday’s event, but could not make it and sent Barbara Blake, senior advisor for tribal affairs, in his place.
Blake said that some state grant funding was given to the project, and that she and the governor were pleased to see that money being put to good use.
“We are happy to see the result of a lot of that funding going to our communities and the end result come about — housing for families,” Blake told the Daily News.
Azure explained that there are more than 100 people on KIC’s waitlist to get a unit. He said that housing in Ketchikan is notably more expensive than elsewhere and this program helps those who need it most.
“The housing program has certain qualifications. There’s a median family income for each town in Alaska and throughout the country, so the limit is 80 percent or less (of that income) to be able to live in them,” Azure said. “They have to be Native American families, at least one person in the family. Those are our main qualifications.”
KIC Tribal Council President Irene Dundas told the Daily News that these units are the latest of a number that KIC has worked on.
In total, KIC has 35 units for low-income residents. She emphasized that there is certainly room for more construction in the future, but for now was pleased that there are seven new homes available.
“We have seven apartments for low-income (families), and that’s seven families coming in here so that’s wonderful,” Dundas said.
Construction on the apartments went fast, with barely over two years separating concept to completion.
Verna Hudson, former chair of the KIC Housing Authority, explained that she and her committee worked hard to get these units completed.
“This was my project!” she said excitedly. “We found that we needed to have one- and two-bedroom units for our tribal members, the three- and four-bedroom ones were too large for them – this was our answer.”
Seven fortunate families will be taken off of the waitlist in the coming weeks and given the news that they have a new home. Organizers say they expect the units to be fully occupied by the end of August.