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Preserving affordable housing in San Juan County

Last March, Tyler Harrison received a letter indicating that his Friday Harbor apartment complex may discontinue income-based rent.

“If the subsidy was to go away, there aren’t a whole lot of affordable places to rent from in Friday Harbor,” he said. “It’d be a pretty big deal.”

According to a report by San Juan County Community Development officials, 43 percent of county homes are vacant. That means, second homes and vacation rentals could be depleting the islands’ stock of long-term rentals, which residents, like Harrison, have noted are scarce.

The letter Harrison received stated that the Harbor View apartment building, off Tucker Avenue, was up for sale at the end of March. The complex has yet to be purchased. It could be sold to a for-profit company that rents units at market rate, according to Greg Winter, executive director of Bellingham’s Opportunity Council.

To continue affordable housing operations, the property will be solely advertised to nonprofits across the country for its first six months on the market, he added.

News article from the San Juan Journal, July 17, 2017

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