Low-income residents of the Wallowa Alpine Village Apartments in Enterprise will be the recipients of some major remodeling this fall or next spring. And they probably won't even know that ownership of their complex has changed hands.

Some $700,000 worth of state, federal and private improvements are scheduled for the 28-unit apartment complex located at 303 Residence Street.

Built in 1972, the apartments were originally constructed on a $330,900 Housing and Urban Development loan and owned by the Eastern Oregon Community Development Council. Within the first year ownership was changed to a local non profit entity headed by then board chairman Harold Haller and called Wallowa Alpine Village, Inc.

Managing the apartment complex since 1996 has been the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority which is buying the three building complex and gathering the money for the major changes. According to NEOHA's Maggie La Mont each unit will receive some $34,000 worth of improvements including new siding, new windows, new patio doors, new entry doors and new carpeting.

The residents of the complex will not be displaced during construction.

Though the existing three building complex does not have a community room, one is on the drawing board to complement the individual unit improvements.

NEOHA is purchasing the remainder of the original loan for $200,000 and acting as a general contractor to complete $700,000 in rehabilitation. The money comes from a $50,000 reserved trust fund, $492,322 of HOME funding through the Oregon State Housing Council, $53,324 from weatherization moneys, $300,000 from Pioneer Bank which is refinancing the existing loan and $10,638 from applicant equity moneys.

Twenty-six of the 28 units are under the code of Section 8 which means that residents only have to apply one-third of their gross wages toward rent with the federal government stepping up to pay the remainder. Residents include a population mix of independent seniors, working singles and families.

Eight of the units are studios, 16 are one bedroom units, two are two-bedroom units and two are three-bedroom units.

Vickie Massey of Oregon Housing Authority expressed pleasure that NEOHA was willing to step up and purchase the complex, because it could have been sold to anyone with the HUD project expiring after 30 years.

Both the Enterprise city council and the Wallowa County board of commissioners have expressed their support for NEOHA's role in the project.

NEOHA studies have determined that Wallowa County is the fourth most distressed county in Oregon for housing needs. It now has 22 households on the county's Section 8 waiting list. County census data indicates that the number of elderly persons is growing, while the availability of family-wage jobs in the area has decreased, all leading to an increased need for affordable housing.

Massey was hoping that renovation work could begin this fall and be completed by June of 2003.

La Mont mentioned a similar project in Baker City where inside work could be done during the winter months. "It is a bit of an inconvenience to the renters," said La Mont, "But they are happy to get the improvements."   

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