Feb 26, 2017
Nils Peterson, Executive Director, Moscow Affordable Housing Trust
Moscow Affordable Housing Trust to buy 12 lots; build 4 homes in 2017
The Moscow Affordable Housing Trust has signed an option to purchase land in southwest Moscow. The parcel will be platted into twelve lots, according the Executive Director Nils Peterson.
“We have entered a new phase for this organization,” said the Trust’s Board President Karl Johnson. “Previously we have worked on one house a year. Now we are purchasing 12 lots and planning to start four houses in 2017.” The Trust has a commitment of federal HOME program funds for the houses in 2017. Based on the success with the first four, additional funding is possible.
The Trust is just finishing construction on a new two bedroom single-family house, which is for sale for $165,000. “Our goal is to create houses with a fair market value under $170,000. When we sell, we can help our buyers with up to $15,000 to bridge the gap between their maximum mortgage and the cost of the property.”
The new lots will face Sunnyside Avenue, on a portion of the street that has been planned since the 1990s, but never constructed. The road is expected to be constructed later this summer.
“One of the exciting things about this location is that Palouse Prairie Charter School plans to locate right behind us,” said Peterson. “This could make the location attractive to families.” In addition to the school, Anderson Frontier Park is nearby to the west.
“The Trust works differently than Palouse Habitat for Humanity, we use contractors rather than volunteers. They give me confidence to take on a larger project.” Like Habitat, the Trust seeks grants and donations to support its work. “We have a goal of making energy efficient houses, and grants help support that extra cost,” said Peterson.
Affordable home ownership is a challenge in Moscow, which has one of the most expensive housing markets in Idaho. “The challenge is to make the market value of the house affordable. Ideally it stays affordable when the first owner sells. One of the ways we will do that is using the townhouse format,” said Peterson. Homes in a townhouse share common walls, which saves land and reduces costs. “I think we have a design for a nice 3 bed split level house that takes advantage of our hillside location,” said Peterson. “I’m very please with the work of our architect, Laurence Rose.” The Trust still needs to complete work with the City of Moscow to plat the parcel into lots. It expects to break ground on the houses by September 2017.
The Trust is also working to gather more information about what buyers want. “Our potential buyers are households earning between $25,000 and $50,000. They are employees at the universities, hospital, Schweitzer, school districts and local businesses,” said Peterson.
The Trust has developed an online survey and is hoping to partner with local employers to get it distributed to their employees. “We believe that owning a house could help retain employees. Our survey is designed to gather the data to understand that,” said Peterson, “Homeownership is a big financial commitment. A buyer is likely to stay put five years or more.”
Employers interested in helping the Trust distribute the survey and to learn from the data should contact Peterson. The survey will be administered during March. “We also hope to learn some things that will influence the design of our houses, things people need and want,” said Peterson.
Moscow Affordable Housing Trust
510 W Palouse River Drive, Moscow, ID 83843
(509) 336-1664 (cell)