In The Spotlight: BIHA and SCLT
Affordable housing is in short supply across the U.S., and Sitka is no exception. Luckily, local organizations – including Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) and Sitka Community Land Trust (SCLT) – are stepping up to tackle this issue.
By Abigail FitzGibbon
Affordable housing is in short supply across the U.S., and Sitka is no exception. Luckily, local organizations – including Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) and Sitka Community Land Trust (SCLT) – are stepping up to tackle this issue. Both provide housing to eligible Sitkans at affordable prices.
Created by private citizens, SCLT originated as the Sitka Community Development Corporation in 2006 and became a community land trust in 2014. Their mission statement declares that the trust “creates lasting affordable home ownership opportunities for people of low and moderate income in Sitka.”
SCLT house structures are available to people earning 120% or less of Sitka’s annual median income (estimated at $85,850 for one person, adjusted by headcount per household). Preference goes to seniors and those earning 80% of AMI or less. The resale prices homeowners can set are limited, to ensure houses remain permanently affordable. Applications and further information are available at sitkaclt.org. Co-Executive Director Mim McConnell offers to answer questions personally for Sitkans wanting to learn more.
BIHA was created in 1980 and currently manages 87 affordable rentals and home ownership units. “Our primary focus is on providing affordable housing opportunities to eligible Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Citizens and members of other tribes,” says Executive Director Cliff Richter. BIHA also has apartments for seniors and some housing available to the general public. “It all starts with our housing application,” Richter stresses. “Don’t put it off. Get started on yours today.” If a vacant unit is not available, approved applicants will be added to a wait list.
BIHA also offers eligible tribal members financial literacy counseling and home repair assistance and can provide up to $5,000 towards home purchase closing costs. Its student housing voucher program contributes up to $1,000 annually per eligible student towards housing associated with higher education or training.
Both BIHA and SCLT aim to construct at least one new house per year. BIHA’s next project is a duplex on Gil Truitt Court. The organization is also designing its next phase of 4-plexes to be constructed at 140 Indian River Road and has plans to extend Herb Didrickson Street for future residential growth.
SCLT is currently building the S’us’ Héeni Sháak Community Neighborhood, a 14-cottage conglomerate on HPR. Designs are available on SCLT’s website, and McConnell says the trust is “definitely interested” in garnering additional applicants for the neighborhood.
SCLT accepts donations through their site. “Anybody donating to help a low-income person get into one of our homes, that money…is retained with the home over time,” McConnell says. “One of the wonderful things about a community land trust is that it retains subsidies for generations. So… they’re not just helping one family, they’re helping multiple families over the years.” Sitkans can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call McConnell at (907) 738-2888.
As for BIHA, they’re seeking a housing program specialist and a full-time, permanent maintenance worker – applications available online!
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