Affordable housing development may be coming to East End Road

Oct 24, 2018

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

An affordable housing development may be coming to Kachemak City. Housing developer Swell wants to build a 24-unit apartment complex near Crested Crane Street off East End Road. The two developers that make up Swell are planning to construct mostly one and two-bedroom units and some three-bedrooms.

Swell says rent would be tied to income, and rent for a one-bedroom could be as low as $375 per month. Swell presented its proposal to the Kachemak City Council earlier this month.

Glenn Gellert is one of Swell’s developers:

“We're catering to people that are primarily making 60 percent or less than medium income,” he said. “We're catering to people, what we would call workforce housing, it's teachers, it's people working at Safeway, people working at Land’s End, people working at the new motel.”  

Swell has built over 30 similar affordable housing projects, totaling over 1,000 units. Gellert says the company recently finished a 20-unit project in Kodiak and he says over 100 people are currently on the waitlist for that complex.

“Our sense is, and we had some market study work done here, that we're going to get a similar response here because there hasn't been very much affordable housing built in the recent past,” he said. “Most of it is 20, 25-years-old, which is the same situation in Kodiak and so a lot of people are living in substandard housing.”

But financing for the project isn’t in line quite yet.

“We use a financing program through Alaska Housing Finance called the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and it's a very competitive program,” he said. “This year there are 13 applicants statewide and only three or four are going to get funded.”

Gellert thinks the project will have a good shot because the program gives preference to rural communities.

Kachemak City Council members brought up a variety of concerns ranging from how the housing complex would access water to whether it would disrupt the city’s rural feel. Mayor Bill Overway estimated that the project would likely increase the city’s population by 10 percent.

“We do have limitations out here as you probably know, because on this side of the road, the only police we have are state troopers…,” he said. “So number one, there's no police, there's no public transportation here in Homer.”

Swell asked for a letter of support from the council, but the body’s members said they would like to email residents for input before committing to a letter of support.

If Swell receives funding for the project, the company says it would like to break ground next spring.