By Kelley Atherton

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County will receive $1.6 million from federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program to build low-income housing.

County Administrative Officer Jeannine Galatioto said that the money will go toward the construction of an 81-unit apartment complex, Hidden Creek Apartments. They will be located behind Wal-Mart.

The project will cost $15-16 million, but the $1.6 million will be a revolving loan to the Hidden Creek Apartment Investors L.P., Galatioto explained.

The project is already underway, she added, but construction will start this summer and will probably take 14 to 15 months to be completed.

Galatioto said that there is a need for low-income housing in the county's unincorporated areas, or areas that are not part of a city or village.

andquot;It's a significant part of the housing shortage,andquot; she said.

Since the apartments are for low-income residents it will be divided up based on the household's income, said Jim Carnegie, fiscal manager for the county administration.

Those figures depend on the size of the family, he explained. For example, a three-person household's average income would be $23,200.

Ten percent of the housing will be limited to people with income that is 30 percent of the area's average income. Ten percent will be restricted to people with 40 percent of the average income, 50 percent will be limited to people with 50 percent of the average income and 30 percent limited to people with 60 percent of the average income.

The area behind Wal-Mart is not only unincorporated, but within walking distance of retail stores, the hospital, schools and public transportation.

andquot;It's within a mile of almost everything,andquot; Galatioto said.

She added that not only is this project a necessity for the county, but will be an improvement.

andquot;This is excellent for the community and it's meeting a need, but I think it will be an attractive project,andquot; Galatioto said.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced awards totaling $72 million in federal funds across California.

The HOME Program funds are intended to off-set the current mortgage crisis in California by giving financial assistance to first-time homebuyers, reducing the number of bank-owned homes and increasing the number of rental properties.

The awards will provide housing opportunities in 53 California cities and counties.

The HOME project assists cities, counties, and nonprofit community housing development organizations to maintain the availability of affordable housing. It also provides funds to those cities and counties that are eligible, but do not receive HOME funds directly from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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