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Seattle Housing meets key stimulus fund deadline

Agency is leveraging $2.45 for every
$1 of ARRA funding awarded

SEATTLE — March 22, 2010 — Seattle Housing Authority recently met a key March 17 deadline set by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to obligate $17 million of initial stimulus funding received through HUD's capital fund in 2009. Seattle subsequently competed successfully for an additional $27.6 million in ARRA Funds. 

Seattle Housing is using these funds to add new low-income housing at Rainier Vista and to make needed updates at Bell Tower. The competitive funds that will need to be obligated by September of this year will add new low-income housing at Lake City and make needed updates at Denny Terrace, a high-rise apartment building in downtown Seattle.

"With national partisan politics still ablaze over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), both the Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) have been understandably concerned that some housing authorities may not successfully meet the Act's mandatory deadlines, first for obligating the awarded funds and then for spending them," said Tom Tierney, Seattle Housing Authority Executive Director.

"As of last week Seattle Housing was able to report we have fully obligated the first round of funding. While this sounds elementary, it is significant that many recipients of stimulus money will not successfully meet this deadline," Tierney said. "We have gone beyond this initial milestone, with projects at Rainier Vista and Bell Tower well underway, and work at Lake City Village and Denny Terrace also progressing."

The meeting of the March 17 deadline is just one of the ways the agency continues to take full advantage of the $44.6 million ARRA funds received. In addition to creating new low-income housing with the funding, the agency is preserving existing housing, attracting additional money and creating jobs.

Seattle Housing has also been able to use the funding to attract additional money and re-assign resources so that the $44.6 million results in construction projects worth $109.4 million. As a result, the agency is leveraging $2.45 for every $1 of Recovery Act funding.
So far, Recovery Act funding awarded to the agency has created or retained more than 31 jobs that would not exist without this funding. The number of jobs is expected to increase as the projects progress. Most of the jobs created are construction jobs, not jobs within the Seattle Housing Authority. Many are employing low-income residents from surrounding neighborhoods.

Sergei Khandzhayan

Sergei Khandzhayan works as an administrative assistant on the ARRA-funded infrastructure project at Rainier Vista.

For example, Sergei Khandzhayan, who grew up in Seattle Housing's High Point community, was recently hired to work at the Rainier Vista Northeast job site as an administrative assist with the Gary Merlino Construction Company.

"It's been a blessing for me to be able to learn and grow and give back to family and friends and the people that I work with," Khandzhayan said.

Khandzhayan says the job has helped him hone project management skills that he hopes to use throughout his professional career.

"Everybody does something that contributes to the greater good, but this particular job helps me see the bigger picture of the work," Khandzhayan said.

Projects benefitting from the ARRA funding include Phase II development of Rainier Vista, construction of the Lake City Village Apartments, building system updates to Denny Terrace and rehabilitation of Bell Tower.

For more information on these projects, visit our Stimulus Funding at Work page online.