City aims to preserve affordable housing unit

Bellevue plans to purchase an affordable housing condo unit to save it from foreclosure on June 30.

The city of Bellevue intends to purchase an affordable housing condominium unit to save it from foreclosure and preserve its pricing regulations.

At its May 28 study session, the city council gave direction to staff to contact the owner of the unit to express the intent to purchase the unit if a tenant is not able to rent the space by June 30.

Janet Lewine, associate planner with the Community Development Department, explained the history behind the unit and why the city is taking this step. From 1991 to 1996, Bellevue had mandatory affordable housing regulations that said every project with more than 10 units required 10 percent of the units to be affordable to people making 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

The unit in question is part of the Lakemont Ridge development that was built in 1995 Lewine said. Due to the owner coming into financial troubles, the unit was at risk of foreclosure which would strip it of any of the legacy affordable housing regulations still in place.

If the city buys the condo unit, it would be able to resell the unit to maintain the 80 percent AMI requirement for the unit. The owner has until June 30 — the owner’s foreclosure date — to find a new tenant. If a resident is not found to rent the space, the city will have the right of first refusal to purchase the unit.

The condo is currently listed at $365,000, Lewine said, and part of the listed cost includes money for maintenance and improvements.

If the city does purchase the unti, the council has directed staff to wait to resell it until A Regional Coalition for Housing’s (ARCH) affordable housing review is complete. The data from the report could be used to inform what type of affordability regulations would be the best fit for the unit.

The city became aware of the foreclosure in early April and had to express their intent to act by June 1. Lewine spoke with the owner who would need to find an eligible person to rent the unit by mid-June to meet the June 30 deadline.

“We would like to get a new owner in,” Lewine said. “But the city is all set to fill out the paperwork and complete the purchase.”

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