housing units rent fast
happy, we like to live here. It’s really nice, quiet here."
Express Staff Writer
at the price-restricted Balmoral apartments in Hailey range from $330 to
$775 per month. The new development "helps the numbers
greatly," said Blaine County housing director Gates Kellett. But
"it certainly doesn’t put a lid on us needing housing in Ketchum
at all." Express
photo by David Seelig
At 120 units, the
Wood River Valley’s largest rent-restricted affordable housing
development is all but full and turning away qualified applicants after
opening six months ago.
"I think that
the demand is strong" for affordable housing said Carrie Jocke, a
supervisor for Summit Real Estate Services that is overseeing the
startup of the Balmoral Apartments on Hailey’s south side. The number
of applications she’s received has been "extremely
happy, we like to live here," said Sandra Castillo, 39, Thursday
evening as she unpacked groceries with her mother and nephew, Jose
Rivas, 20, in her new home. "It’s really nice, quiet here."
Castillo said she
and her husband and three children moved into a new three-bedroom unit,
which rents for less than $775 a month, from a neighboring apartment
complex when Balmoral opened around Christmas.
She and her
husband run an office cleaning and maintenance business that they bought
nine months ago and moved here from Nampa. Their work is equally split
between Hailey and Ketchum.
obviously impressed with his aunt’s new home, said he’s looking for
work in the Wood River Valley as a welder so he can move his wife and
two children here from Nampa. Previously, he lived in south central Los
Angeles and said he left because of gang violence.
Created under the
Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, the Balmoral Apartments are a
partnership between the private, Boise-based Thomas Development Co. and
the Internal Revenue Service. Units are available to people whose
incomes are 60 percent or less of Blaine County residents’ median
income, which is $66,500.
A single resident,
for example, must earn less than $27,960 per year to qualify for a
one-bedroom unit that would cost at most $555 per month. A six-person
household must have a combined income of less than $46,260 per year and
would pay at most $775 per month for an apartment. Rents are less for
those who earn less money.
Jocke said she has
turned away more than 20 applicants who earn just under the maximum
income because she doesn’t have units available for them.
For residents, and
for planners from Ketchum and Hailey, the Balmoral apartments are
somewhat of a mixed blessing. Because the development is so big, it
takes a huge chunk out of the valley’s need to house low and
When a second
construction stage is completed later this year or early next year,
Balmoral will total 192 units.
But the apartments’
location does little to integrate communities based on class and income,
critics say. And it does little to reduce the number of commuters on
Highway 75 who travel to Ketchum for work.
"helps the numbers greatly," said Blaine County housing
director Gates Kellett, whose job it is to increase the valley’s
affordable housing inventory. But "it certainly doesn’t put a lid
on us needing housing in Ketchum at all."
On Thursday, the
five-member Blaine County Housing Authority toured the new development
with Jocke inspecting a two-bedroom and a one-bedroom unit.
buildings, which will eventually total 19, are three stories tall with
cream-colored stucco and synthetic wood siding. A greenbelt runs through
the middle of the development leading to a soccer field the developer
must eventually donate to the city of Hailey.
day, jets roar along Hailey airport’s runway, just across Highway 75,
momentarily stopping all conversation. Tenants must sign a form stating
they won’t complain about the noise.
Inside, the units
have white walls, wooden cabinets and gray carpet. Extras, such as a
washer and dryer or a single-car garage, are rented separately.
members asked a variety of questions --from whether pets are allowed
(no) to how leasing works.
One concern for
the authority was the possibility that a corporation could rent a large
number of units for its employees, shutting out other renters. But Jocke
said a corporation couldn’t qualify to rent the units, because
qualification is based on individuals’ incomes.
Due to the way the
leasing system was created, Jocke said, tenants whose incomes go up
might be required to move to a different unit, but they would never be
evicted for getting too large of a pay increase.
At the entrance to
the development is a community clubhouse with an exercise room,
community kitchen, leasing office and business center with computers
available for tenants’ use.
Jocke said one
service Balmoral will offer is education on how to qualify for
government programs that make home loans available to low-income
"We try to
encourage people to buy homes," Jocke said.