WHITE SALMON — Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation (CCHC) announced it will purchase White Salmon’s affordable housing complex, Rhine Village. The purchase will extend the time in which the housing development will maintain its affordability.

The announcement comes amid a $2.5 million grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce awarded to the housing corporation, which along with additional capital from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development fund, will help to fund the $6.5 million total cost for the handover.

CCHC Executive Director Joel Madsen said a loan from the 1980s, which funded the project’s development, was set to expire soon. Within the loan agreement was a mandate that required the original owners, West Klickitat Community Housing (WKCH), to keep the housing rates affordable for the duration of the loan. Under the original ownership, when the loan expires, the housing development would “be in jeopardy of converting to market rate,” Madsen said.

The issue sparked conversations between WKCH and CCHC to transfer ownership. CCHC has the ability to leverage funds for additional grants and preserve affordable rates, Madsen said, which makes the housing corporation the prime organization to take on the role and preserve Rhine Village’s mission.

As the new owner, the housing corporation anticipates Rhine Village will maintain its affordable rates for the next 40 years. Not only that, but the capital from Department of Commerce will fund physical improvements to its 35 units.

Scott Clements, President of CCHC, states “with the apartment homes at risk of converting to market, we’re excited to acquire the property from the current owners, and bring resources to the table to address the much needed physical improvements.”

Rhine Village, built in the 1980s, is located in White Salmon, a community that is certainly grappling with housing affordability challenges.

“White Salmon is the fastest growing city in Klickitat County and continues to see housing costs escalate rapidly for renters and homeowners. Housing is not a luxury good, and all our residents need a place to live,” says White Salmon Mayor Marla Keethler. “This investment in rehabilitating and ensuring the long-term affordability of Rhine Village is an exciting opportunity for our community, and I’m grateful for the collaborative partnerships behind the scenes that made this possible.”

WKCH, CCHC and Chrisman Development have been collaborating for the past few years with the goal of turning Rhine Village back to the community asset it should be, according to a press release.

“Rhine Village is home to families that are part of the fabric of our community. I am so happy to hear that our plan for turning the keys over to CCHC and working in partnership to obtain capital resources to preserve this asset for years to come is one step closer to coming to fruition.” Jonathan Blake, WKCH Board President.

CCHC intends to leverage the state and federal capital investments to rehabilitate and preserve the 36 units as affordable housing for years to come.