They're not moving to Canada, but moving unwanted homes across the border to the U.S.On Thursday, work crews slowly moved a two-story, four-unit apartment building through the streets of Port Townsend. People gathered along the rain-soaked sidewalks to watch.
"We need this," said one observer. "All cities do."The 200,000-pound building contains four two-bedroom units that will soon be filled with struggling families. They'll pay rent as little as $900 per month. Non-profit developers also plan to install four studio apartments in the basement, bringing the total number of units to eight.
Like many cities, Port Townsend is seeing its real estate and rent prices rise, leaving more and more people without options."I see people who are working and struggling to get by," said another resident. "I worry about that."
The 700 affordable housing units in the city right now are almost completely full. Part of the problem is the wealthy are buying up rental houses and using them for second homes.With inventory so low, the Olympic Housing Trust is taking buildings doomed for demolition in Canada and giving them new homes in America.
It's actually cheaper to buy a building in B.C., barge it across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and replant it in Washington."This building would've ended up in a landfill in Canada," said the Trust's Mark Blatter.
The total cost of the Port Townsend project is about $400,000. A similar development might cost double to build from scratch in the States.In this case, the City of Port Townsend donated the land.
Blatter believes it's public-private partnerships like this that will keep more people from falling into homelessness."Stable housing does so much to benefit families and kids," he said. "You can't address other areas in your life without a home."
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