Designated low-income residents of Molalla Gardens, formerly Rondel Court, living at Stone Place with subsidized rent through Catholic Charities

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - Construction of 27 new apartment units and 20 remodeled units is nearing completion for the Molalla Gardens, the Catholic Charties' housing for low-income families. The apartment complex is located at the corner of Fenton and Heintz streets in downtown Molalla.

Once summer rolls around, residents of the former Rondel Court apartments in Molalla will be able to move into their new or remodeled homes.

Catholic Charities of Oregon, an organization dedicated to serving "the most vulnerable, regardless of faith, to achieve lasting solutions to poverty and injustice," is nearing construction finalization of the low-income housing complex as the project's sponsor, Caritas (Latin for "charity") Housing Initiatives, facilitates the complex update. The builder is LMC Construction and the architect is Carleton Hart Architecture.

Now called Molalla Gardens, the complex that once housed 30 apartment units, will add a little more than 50 percent additional low-income units when construction is anticipated to be finished in June. The complex is located near the intersection of Fenton Street and East Heintz Street.

Trell Anderson, Catholic Charities' Director of Community Development and Housing, said 20 of the current units will be completely rehabilitated, while another 10 were demolished to make room for 27 brand new units, bringing the total to 47 units at the complex.

"In general, we are thrilled to upgrade this property for Molalla residents," Anderson said in an email on April 20. "Finding affordable housing is difficult in all communities across the state. Increasing the number of units from 30 to 47 at this property will offer more affordable options to more people. We are happy to be of service and offer opportunities like this for people to live with peace and dignity."

Catholic Charities acquired the property 17 years ago to provide the low-income housing for Molalla residents who need the help. The organization decided in recent years that the property needed an update based on two factors: the age and deterioration of the units and property itself along with the zoning of the site that showed the ability to accommodate more housing units.

And while the apartments will essentially become a brand-new complex, they'll still be designated as low-income housing.

Anderson said the 17 one-bedroom units will be designated for households at or below 60 percent of the area median income, as published by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. That means a one-person household would have to make $30,900 or less per year to qualify for one of those units that will cost $827 per month in rent with a utility allowance of $61. For a household of two, the total income must be less than or equal to $35,280 to qualify for the low-income unit.

In addition, the remaining 30 units, which include 10 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and seven three-bedroom units, will be designated for households at or below 40 percent of the area median income. The last of those 30 units includes the property manager's unit.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - Molalla Gardens will include 20 existing units which have been completely remodeled along with 27 brand new units.

For example, in order for a household of two people to qualify for a two-bedroom unit that costs $662 in rent with a $78 utility allowance, the total income must be less than or equal to $23,520 per year. For a full listing of median family income requirements based on family size, see the chart below for Clackamas County.

But while the new units are being built, the current residents need somewhere else to live. That's where the Federal Uniform Relocation Act comes in, which requires "like for like" temporary housing during the construction process. It means that the temporary housing solutions must offer things like same bedroom and unit size, same general location, and same access to amenities, to name a few.

That made Stone Place apartments, located on Highway 211 near the intersection of Hezzie Lane in Molalla, the perfect fit.

"It just happened that those Stone Place units were under construction when we planned our units, and they were the first place our residents could go to," Anderson said in phone call on April 20.

Presently, while the residents are living in Stone Place apartments while their new units are being built, Catholic Charities subsidizes their rent to make up the difference between the cost of living at the former Rondel Court and Stone Place. The money for relocation comes from the project budget, which is primarily a combination of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal HOME funds allocated from Clackamas County, a State General Housing Account, and a bank loan, according to Anderson.

In addition to building all-new units and remodeling old ones, Anderson said some additional upgrades will be made, including enhancements to the complex's playground, the installation of planter boxes to allow residents to grow gardens on site, and a new community building where the property manager will be.

A grand opening ceremony will be planned to celebrate the end of the construction and settlement of all of the residents into their new homes, likely in June.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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