News

A boost for downtown's quality of life

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

With assistance from Federal Way’s Korean Women’s Association, the city’s downtown core and affordable housing opportunities will continue to grow.

The Korean Women’s Association (KWA) provides multicultural and multilingual services to primarily Asian, Pacific Islander, low-income and elderly residents. The association has served Federal Way for more than 20 years.

On Oct. 26, it received a grant of $8,592,300 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Lua Pritchard, Korean Women’s Association executive director.

The association will put the money to use in Federal Way’s downtown core. There, the association will build and operate a 61-bed low-income senior housing facility near the Federal Way Transit Center, Pritchard said. The association has worked toward establishing this grant for more than a year, she said.

Once completed, the facility will be the first of its kind in Federal Way that’s governed by the Korean Women’s Association, Pritchard said.

The facility will benefit both the city, which closely followed the association’s application process for the funding, and the seniors residing in the structure, said Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty.

“From our perspective, it is important that sites in our city center not remain vacant,” Doherty said.

A need for both senior housing and affordable housing is present in Federal Way, he said. This facility is especially important because it will provide social services for its tenants, Pritchard said.

Residents at the KWA-operated facility will be able to acquire services in their own language and culture, she said.

“KWA feels there is a real lack of cultural and language-competent services in housing,” Pritchard said in an e-mail Thursday.

The ideal location of the facility will allow residents to more easily maneuver around the city without having to rely on relatives, Doherty said.

The Korean Women’s Association expects to have the facility in operation by 2010, Pritchard said. However, the KWA still seeks additional funding for the project, she said. The final cost is estimated to be $25 million.

The organization plans to seek financial assistance from the State Housing Trust Fund, King County, private foundations, low-income tax credits and the City of Federal Way, Pritchard said.

Community development block grant funding, in the amount of $359,714, has been requested from King County.

If the KWA receives the county grant, Federal Way will also supply the group with community development block grant funds totaling up to $157,335, said Kelli O’Donnell, Community Development Block Grant coordinator. The association will find out if it received these funds in December, when the county is done reviewing the KWA’s application for funding, she said.

The organization will then receive money to be used toward the acquisition of the property from the city in 2008, O’Donnell said.

The organization has a rich history in providing citizens in other cities, such as Tacoma, with similar housing and community service opportunities. In Tacoma, the Pacific Villa — operated by the Korean Women’s Association — has only had seven residents relocate or pass away since opening in 1998, Pritchard said.

More than 100 low-income senior citizens are currently waiting to live in the 25-unit building, she said.

Contact Jacinda Howard:jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Learn more

To learn more about the Korean Women’s Association, visit its Web site at www.kwaoutreach.org/ or visit the organization’s Federal Way location at 31218 Pacific Highway S., Suite A.

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