Redondo Heights to address Federal Way’s need for more affordable housing

By Adrienne Washington, For the Mirror

The Multi-Service Center (MSC) is partnering with Shelter Resources Inc. to construct a new affordable apartment complex in Federal Way. Beginning construction in summer of 2022, Redondo Heights will provide 334 units of housing for low- to middle-income residents.

Redondo Heights, an addition to the existing Silver Shadow Apartments complex, is located half a mile west of the projected 272nd Link Light Rail station extension into Federal Way. The project aims to provide residents access to a reliable transit system, leading to new economic opportunities.

The housing project is one part of a larger solution to address a rising concern from south King County residents who are in need of more affordable housing options. Due to increased living and housing costs, residents are fearful of being displaced further from the area.

“Affordability is a huge issue, especially as we see inflation impact all areas of people’s budget. It’s like, [before the pandemic] people are already living paycheck-to-paycheck,” said Amanda Santo, the director of Operations and Affordable Housing at the MSC.

This issue is not new to residents of Federal Way, who have recognized the need for years. The Community Needs Assessment, a community wide survey conducted every three years by MSC, identifies the top needs for residents in South King County. Santo said that for recent rounds of the survey, homelessness and housing affordability have been listed as one of the top five most prominent issues for the community. For this year’s assessment, Santo said she expects to see housing continue to be a top ranking issue for low- and moderate-income residents alike.

“We know that housing and housing affordability continue to be at the forefront of the issues impacting our community. Everyone needs and deserves housing; safe, stable, affordable housing. And we know that type of housing is in short supply, these days in South King County,” said Santo.

The MSC’s staff have been informed of individuals and families trying to maintain housing in poor living conditions. And since housing instability looks different in suburban areas than in the city, the community might be unaware of how many people are struggling.

“We also see people doubling up, creating housing situations that are unstable, unhealthy, or in some way compromising their ideal housing to just sort of survive and keep a roof over their head. We have families living in motels, vehicles, whatever that might be. And so we have a lot of folks that are experiencing housing instability or homelessness. That, in a suburban community, looks different,” Santo said.

To qualify for affordable housing at Redondo Heights, residents must make less than 50% of the area’s average income.

The Redondo Heights complex will also provide community resources for its tenants. A new MSC satellite food bank and on-sight navigator who will serve both the residents of the apartments as well as the community in north Federal Way.

“It’s a big project, and so we’re going to have a variety of needs. To have a full-time person dedicated to just supporting the residents’ needs on a human-service, social-service level is really important to us since the very beginning,” Santo said.