Helping Hands approaches Hyak Building for second time

Alan Evans' dream to use the Hyak Building for a Helping Hands program has been revived after nearly two years. The Seaside-based nonprofit is moving ahead in partnership with the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority and Clatsop Community Action to use the top floor of the building, on the corner of Edgewood Street and Avenue S, to house men who are in the last phase of their re-entry program.

The use of the Hyak Building by Helping Hands for a phase of its re-entry program is back on the horizon after a series of misunderstandings and obstacles last year that put the project on hold for what appeared to be indefinitely.

The building on the corner of Avenue S and Edgewood Street in Seaside has returned as a viable option for housing several men who are in the “pregraduate” stage of the re-entry program.

“It’s a great comeback story,” said Alan Evans, director of the Helping Hands.

The Seaside-based nonprofit organization had struck a partnership with the Clatsop County Housing Authority to lease the multi-family Hyak Building in August 2012, but the deal hit a series of obstacles that ended up causing financial stress for Helping Hands.

At that time, the building was going to be renovated with a $500,000 grant that Oregon Housing and Community Services awarded to the county authority. But the deal between Helping Hands and the county authority was thrown into limbo in December 2012 when the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners took over the county authority and dismissed the agency’s board, executive director and operations manager.

The grant was put on hold, along with a loan to complete the purchase of the multi-family building. When Evans found out the monthly payment to lease the building would be $3,500 instead of $1,000, as he originally believed, he backed off the deal completely.

“It’s unfortunate the waters got so foggy; it had to be put on the back burner,” he said.

Fast forward to now, when the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority (NOHA) has been put in charge of administering the county authority, although the county commissioners continue to serve as the county housing authority’s board. NOHA serves Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties.

Todd Johnston, executive director of NOHA and the acting supervisor for the county authority, said NOHA’s board is planning to decide in November if it should approve an option agreement to transfer a portfolio of properties from the county authority to NOHA and consolidate the two agencies. The Hyak Building is included in that portfolio.

The board for each authority seems to be in favor of the option agreement. The county authority board voted several months ago to approve the consolidation agreement, said county Manager Scott Somers.

“The next step, if in fact NOHA does approve this, then the consolidation will occur, because the (county housing authority) board has already authorized it,” Somers said.

His understanding, at this point, is that all of the county authority’s properties would transfer to be owned and maintained by NOHA, he added.

In the meantime, NOHA applied with Oregon Housing and Community Services to sponsor the Hyak Building project, and the state agreed to allow the authority to work on it, Johnston said. The authority is using LMC Construction to do a capital needs assessment to determine what is needed to complete the project, and then the authority will submit an updated application to the state for funding.

“It’s been up in the air for about a year and a half, but we are moving forward now and we’re trying to get it up and going,” Johnston said. “ ... The board is in support of the project and wants it to move forward — both boards.”

Alison McIntosh, the government relations and communications liaison with Oregon Housing and Community Services, said the state agency has guaranteed the $500,000 in general housing account funds for NOHA to complete the Hyak project.

The department is just waiting for NOHA to finish the construction assessment and for the board to vote in November on the option agreement, she said.

If all goes according to plan, NOHA would acquire the grant to renovate the building, and then Helping Hands would lease the property in a long-term lease agreement, Johnston said.

Clatsop Community Action also would contribute to the project by providing rental assistance funding for the building’s first-floor independent living units through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program called Continuum of Care, which provides case management and already works closely with Helping Hands, Johnston said.

The lease agreement between Helping Hands and NOHA has not been established — and won’t be until the funding is guaranteed — but the organization’s payment will be about $1,000 per month because of that partnership, according to Johnston.

“The $1,000 per month is only to cover the rent for the upstairs, and the (Continuum of Care) funding will offset the rest of the rent so that the project is able to pay for itself moving forward,” Johnston said.

That price makes the project much more feasible for Helping Hands.

“It all worked out much better now,” Evans said. “There was such a misunderstanding with the deal before. We wouldn’t have been able to afford it.”

‘It’s a great comeback story’

Alan Evans

director, Helping Hands

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