Ceremony marks official reopening of Green River Homes

Sandy Goodenhow describes to officials how the King County Housing Authority
Sandy Goodenhow describes to officials how the King County Housing Authority's renovated Green River Homes on M Street Southeast are a blessing to live in.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

Before a fall on the job saddled her with debilitating injuries years ago, Sandy Goodenhow had been a controller at a board assembly factory in California.

Abruptly unable to work, short on rent money, and in danger of becoming homeless, Goodenhow moved to Auburn 13 years ago. She opened a daycare center here, but when her worsening disability forced her to give it up, she moved into The King County Housing Authority's Green River Homes on M Street Southeast.

Last year KCHA temporarily relocated Goodenhow and other residents to work on $11 million worth of renovations to the aging, outmoded complex. She moved back into her home last December.

Today confined to a wheelchair, Goodenhow was at the grand reopening of the 56-year-old housing complex Aug. 16 to tell the dignitaries from city, county, state and federal levels gathered for the occasion how much better her life is today because of those improvements.

"I have wide doors, so I can easily go through, I asked for metal plates to protect the door from my chair because my hands are bad, and sometimes I want to go one way, and my chair goes another way ... They installed extra grab bars on the tub and cut out an extra section of the tub so it's safer," Goodenhow said.

Goodenhow even let people tour her home.

Claude DaCorsi, director of Capital Construction for the KCHA, said that the project was part of KCHA's strategy to preserve and upgrade its entire portfolio of public housing.

"Green River Homes was very well maintained over all those years, but it got to the point where the units became pretty tired, pretty outdated, and it was time to do a major renovation," DaCorsi said.

When renovations started in April 2012, the water distribution system was undersized and lacked adequate fire flow. Floor plans were outdated, as were plumbing, heating and electrical systems in the units.

"We were fortunate enough to put together a financing program to allow us to come in and do this work. Originally, we had 60 units here, and one was used by the YWCA as a training center for after-school homework, so we actually took that unit and converted it into a five-bedroom unit and reduced the number of units to 59."

Many of the units had to be stripped down to the studs and rebuilt.

The result is living spaces with modern, attractive, easy-to-maintain fiber cement exterior siding. Gables over front doorways embellish the former utilitarian–looking, cabin-like structures. Renovated apartment interiors have new doors, windows, cabinets, countertops, wall finishes and floor coverings.

New playground equipment suitable for toddlers and older children has been installed. The basketball court has been replaced. The property has been re-landscaped with new trees, shrubs, ground cover, and grass. Curbs and sidewalks have been replaced, and the stretch of L Street that runs through the development has been resurfaced. New water and gas lines have been installed.

A combination of federal low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt and taxable financing supported by the federal government's project-based Section 8 rents financed the project. KCHA's status as a Moving to Work agency provided flexibility to combine funding streams, which made this financing possible.

"There is a critical need for affordable apartments in the region, especially for larger families," said Doug Barnes, chairperson of the King County Housing Authority board of directors. "With the renovation of Green River Homes, the Authority has ensured the future of this vital public housing community. By linking this neighborhood to Auburn's Les Gove Park, with all it has to offer, we are also providing a wealth of opportunities for our young people and their families."

CNJA Architects provided architectural services, and Synergy Construction, Inc. was the general contractor.

"The best thing was the whole thing was done in one year," DaCorsi said. "Synergy Construction did an excellent job helping us to meet our construction targets."

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