With housing costs skyrocketing, a social service agency that helps people find affordable housing has started a project that could offer a bit of help: a pocket neighborhood in Garden City.
NeighborWorks Boise has begun construction on a lot at 335 E. 40th St. The 40th Street Cottages will include 15 houses on a block located two blocks from the Boise River and across the river from Esther Simplot Park.
They are priced from $180,000 to $210,000 each. They range in size from 678 square feet to 983 square feet. Most will have two bedrooms and one or two bathrooms.
“Everything we do here is designed to sell for under the median house sales price,” said Bud Compher, the CEO of NeighborWorks Boise, at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. “Over half of them are sold already. That shows you what the need is.”
Home affordability is a growing problem in the Boise area as prices rise amid a tight housing supply. The median price for new and used houses sold in Ada County was nearly $300,000 in February, a record. The median family income in Ada County is $58,099.
Foundations have been laid for five of the houses, with work to begin soon on five more. The first 10 homes are scheduled to be completed by the end of October, with the remaining five homes to come later.
This is the third pocket neighborhood NeighborWorks has built in Garden City. Work on a fourth is expected to start later this year, with about 20 homes at 45th and Adams streets.
“We have a lot of these parcels like this that are infill parcels,” Garden City Mayor John Evans said. “Bigger developers are going to bypass these parcels, because they just don’t meet their criteria.”
The houses in the previous projects — at 36th Street and North Carr Lane, and at 43rd and Adams streets — are well-built, Evans said. They have been occupied by families, many of them first-time homebuyers, who are an asset to the community, he said.
Don Melendez, Idaho regional president for Wells Fargo bank, presented Compher with a $200,000 check to help homebuyers make down payments. The bank previously donated $4 million to NeighborWorks Boise to help 321 families buy homes, he said.
“The 40th Street Cottages, what a wonderful project,” Melendez said. “I like the idea of workforce housing, because that’s a group that is underserved and needs help.”
Compher noted that Wednesday’s groundbreaking took place on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Fair Housing Act. The law was designed to end housing discrimination.
“We are proud that we can provide equal opportunity for all members of the community for the purchase of a home,” he said.