September 8, 2011 |

CIA housing project readying for tenants

Chilkoot Indian Association tribal administrator Dave Berry said when the new Chilkoot Estates subdivision is within view, he’s surprised by how many people say, "Oh, that’s back here."

Henry Phillips, though, was well aware of CIA’s first housing project within a week of his return to Haines last month. Phillips, 54, is living with his mother and brother after a move here from Washington State. He has applied to live at Chilkoot Estates with his daughter and two grandchildren.

"I’d really like to take advantage of it, and I just think it’s a good thing that they’re offering," Phillips said. "It creates an opportunity to be closer to Mom and my family."

Berry said CIA has "a very thick pile" of applications from people interested in Chilkoot Estates.

He aims to have the subdivision’s eight apartments occupied by year’s end. Completion of three, single-family homes on the site, each about 1,900-square feet and with three bedrooms, is expected next year.

Chilkoot Estates has been under construction since 2008, and planning started in the late 1990s, Berry said.

He said the tribe and its Chilkoot Community Development Corp. built two, four-unit apartment buildings in the subdivision off Fair Drive, "with a state-of-the-art heating system that is fueled by wood pellets." The two-bedroom apartments are nearly 1,000 square feet apiece.

"The four-plexes are completed," he said. "We’re just waiting for the computers between each system to talk together. It’s designed that if one heating unit goes down, there’s a pipe underneath the road between the two buildings that the other heating system can carry the heat for the next building at 60 percent."

"It is subsidized housing, and the way it’s subsidized is we follow federal law," Berry said. "First priority is low-income, and we’re allowed by law to charge up to 30 percent of the applicant’s monthly income going towards the base rent, which is $850 a month."

Housing applicant Phillips, who has chronic rheumatoid arthritis, said he appreciates that some of the apartments meet federal disability requirements.

Most of the housing has a Native preference, Berry said, and the tribe also has set a preference for the elderly and disabled.

"Over 30 percent of our tribal memberships live in a house that has three or four generations in it," Berry said. "It was identified as an issue that we needed to do something to allow the person who’s just starting out to buy a home."

Berry said much of the money for the project came from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Federal highway money went toward road construction for the subdivision.

"We’re building a Chilkoot street and Chilkoot loop and installing water and sewer and underground utilities to each lot, including streetlights and curb and gutter," Berry said.

The long-term plan at the 52-acre site is to have 24 housing units, he said.

Another current CIA development is a partnership with the Haines Borough for First Avenue sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements.

"One of the projects we’ve identified for years is sidewalk development and construction, the rebuild," Berry said. "As you notice when you walk around town, some of our sidewalks are really in disrepair."

CIA agreed to contribute up to $102,000 of Indian Reservation Roads money, he said, and the borough will use a legislative grant to pay the remaining $86,556, according to a resolution the Haines Borough Assembly approved at a special meeting Aug. 30.

"We’re anxious to get it paved this year, and it’s a short window of opportunity," Brian Lemcke, the borough’s interim director of public facilities, told the assembly.

He said the borough and CIA collaboration would cover about 800 linear feet along the east side of First Avenue.

The borough amended a contract with Southeast Roadbuilders - which earlier bid $957,910 for a second phase of Haines street improvements - to include First Avenue sidewalk replacement.

"There are new sidewalks going on Willard Street, and that was it, in the original project," Lemcke said. "They were going to go with the existing sidewalk that went from the Senior Center to the museum, and that existing sidewalk was in very poor condition."