Affordable housing complex is coming to Kachemak City

Feb 8, 2019

Swell is planning a 24-unit complex off East End Road.
Credit Kachemak City

Affordable housing is coming to Kachemak City. Swell, an Alaska-based housing developer, plans to build a 24-unit apartment complex off East End Road. It’s calling the complex East End Cottages.  

The complex near Crested Crane Street will feature two and three-bedroom units ranging from about $850 to $1,100 a month. John McGrew is one of the developers of the project.

“I believe there'll be 20 percent of the units will be market rate units, so there won't be any income restrictions on those, but a majority of the units will be income restricted where your income can only be 50 or 60 percent of the median income,” he said.

This project was one of a handful to receive grant funding from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation in December. McGrew adds that they are also receiving funding from the Rasmuson Foundation as well as additional federal funds.

Swell has completed similar projects in Kodiak and Anchorage. McGrew says those complexes filled up fast. He expects that will be the case in Kachemak City. He says Swell will work with local agencies to make sure locals in need of affordable housing can apply for the complex.

“A lot of the units will be designed for people with a disability, a physical disability or even a mental disability that people might have,” he said. “So we're going to be working with the people that need housing and there's agencies in Homer that support people who need housing and so we're going to reach out to the community in that way.”

But not everyone is excited about the housing development. Back in October, Swell asked the Kachemak City Council to write a letter of support to help secure funding for the project. The council declined to write a letter after it conducted a small local survey in which few city residents said they supported the housing complex.

William Overway is the mayor of Kachemak City.

“The biggest thing is, there were people that were for it, the low cost housing, yet they didn't want it in their backyard,” he said. “There were other people that didn't mind it being there. There were people for it; there were people against it. And so at that point we knew where we stood and hence, as a council we decided not to comment one way or the other because it was split.”

During a Kachemak City Council meeting in October, Overway expressed some concern over who might live in the units, saying that it’s easy to get “undesirables” in affordable housing.

McGrew says while that’s a common fear when it comes to low income housing, there are high qualifications for tenants.

“We look at their background, we check their tenant references, we check criminal backgrounds. We check to see if they've been evicted,” he said. “We check their income.”

He added that there is a tremendous need for affordable housing in the area and that projects such as this one help keep people in the community.  Swell plans to break ground on the project this summer, and it will likely allow perspective tenants to apply for units a couple of months before the project is complete in the summer of 2020.