Sitka Community Land Trust received the donation at their Affordable Housing Fair last Saturday. From left to right: Mim McConnell, SCLT Executive Director; Michelle Putz, Secretary; Deb Miller; Doug Osborne, President; Martha Pearson; Randy Hughey, Project Manager; Maureen O’Hanlon; Ryan Gluth, Vice-President.  (Photo courtesy of Mim McConnell)

The Sitka Community Land Trust received a $25,000 dollar donation from SEARHC Saturday to go toward the development of new affordable housing on Halibut Point Road. The Old City Shops lot has been set aside by the City of Sitka for the development of seven cottages. SCLT Executive Director Mim McConnell says the donation will help pay for cleanup of contaminated soil on the lot in preparing for construction.

“Back in the day, people used to clean oil on the truck and just dump stuff on the ground and we didn’t have regulations like we have now,” McConnell said, explaining why the state required cleanup of the site which cost SCLT about $80,000.

“We could always jack up the prices to cover the cost, but we really don’t want to do that,” she said. “We want to make sure that these homes are affordable and not pass that on to the home buyer.”

The $25,000 dollar donation from SEARHC will nearly cover the remaining cost of clearing the site of debris and preparing for construction, McConnell said. According to her, completion of the Halibut Point Cottages and other affordable housing projects will enable people to afford to live in Sitka, especially young people as the population gets older.

“We need to have a younger population around to help provide services of all different kinds, whether they’re nurses or working in the police department, or teaching in schools or providing care giving services, whatever those services are, we need to make this place more affordable so that people that are just getting started in life can have a leg up,” she said.

The cottages will vary in size from a little over 800 square feet to about a 1300 square foot home with three bedrooms. Prices for the homes start at $184,500 for a one bedroom home. McConnell says she hopes the cottages can be a stepping stone for people looking to build equity, save money and buy a house in Sitka’s open market.

Randy Hughey and Michelle Putz from SCLT joined KCAW’s Erin Fulton on the Morning Interview last week to discuss the Halibut Point Cottages project. You can listen to that conversation here.