ARLINGTON — The Stilly Valley Center, a nonprofit that supports seniors, has put more than 150 low-income apartments up for sale.
The nonprofit is seeking a buyer, or a property management company, to take over the affordable housing operation, said board President Dave Duskin. The board will not sell the property unless a buyer commits to maintaining the apartments as subsidized housing for low-income seniors.
“We’re committed to not selling, if it’s going to change the dedicated use of the buildings,” Duskin said.
The Stilly Valley Center, previously known as the Stillaguamish Senior Center, owns four apartment buildings on Smokey Point Boulevard. The nonprofit built them in 1978, 1989, 1992 and 2006. It plans to sell the buildings as a single package.
Executive Director Danette Klemens held a community meeting for residents in March, announcing the nonprofit’s plan. Klemens said the Stilly Valley Center has already turned down one offer because the buyer didn’t have enough experience with housing financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“We don’t have a buyer at this time,” Klemens told residents. “… We’re not going to even consider someone who doesn’t have a strong reputation.”
Most of the Stilly Valley Center’s tenants primarily rely on Social Security payments, Klemens said. The vast majority only pay $300 to $400 per month in rent. Stilly Valley Center receives the rest of the rent money from federal subsidies. More than 200 people are on the waiting list to move into the Stilly Valley Center’s housing.
Duskin said a change in ownership will not affect tenants’ rent prices. If anything, Duskin said, another owner may have more staff to dedicate to maintenance and repairs.
“I would hope things would change for the better,” Duskin said. “Rent would stay the same, but the maintenance of the facility, upgrades and that kind of stuff would probably be more likely with a buyer that has multiple apartments.”
The board of directors has listed the property with a commercial real estate broker and is working with a national consultant from Atlanta to find a buyer.
Roughly 70 residents attended the community meeting when Klemens announced the property is for sale. After the meeting, resident and tenant committee member MaryJayne Farpella said she felt relieved to learn a sale shouldn’t affect rent prices.
Farpella and two other tenant committee members said they have been attempting to meet with the nonprofit’s board of directors for the past two years. An elevator in one of the buildings doesn’t function properly, the tenants said, and other maintenance issues are causing safety hazards.
“I would just like to work with whoever is in charge to have it be a happy, healthy place to live,” Farpella said.
Duskin and Klemens said the nonprofit’s board meets at the same time every month, and people are welcome to attend. The Stilly Valley Center also advertises the meetings in its newsletter.
“We get people that come to our meeting all the time,” Duskin said. “… It’s an open door.”
Klemens also said the Stilly Valley Center recently received a grant to repair the elevator.
Raymond Snook, a resident and the tenant committee president, said he doesn’t care who owns the property.
“That’s their business if they want to sell this place, not ours,” Snook said.
Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.