MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Construction has begun on a seasonal farmworker housing development outside Burlington.
Melanie Corey, executive director of the Housing Authority of Skagit County, said the project will add 14 apartments to the existing 85 units at Raspberry Ridge, a neighborhood of affordable housing off Lafayette Road.
But unlike the other units, the new units will be exclusively for farmworkers and their families to stay in temporarily while working on farms in the county.
She said the project should be finished by April 2020, in time for picking season.
Groundbreaking comes nearly two years after the housing authority reached agreements with the Burlington City Council to run a sewer connection out to the development and with the county to build road improvements in the area.
The project was primarily funded by a federal grant that required a sewer connection, rather than a septic system, Corey said.
As part of the sewer extension, the other apartments at Raspberry Ridge will be hooked up as well, she said. This will be an improvement for the neighborhood and the environment.
Other farmworker housing options in the county are built and managed by farms and aren’t close to services such as schools or childcare centers, Corey said.
“This is a new model of housing for Skagit County,” she said, adding this is the first farmworker housing project in the county managed by a nonprofit.
She said this will also make it possible for neighbors to hook up to the city’s sewer if they choose.
“Usually when it’s brought in, everyone has the chance to connect,” Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said.
Sexton said the city had been in talks with the housing authority for at least a decade to extend the sewer connection, and he’s glad everyone was able to come to an agreement so the project could start.
“We’re happy to finally get it going,” he said.
The new units are large, built to accommodate large families or up to eight single farmworkers, Corey said.
She said the first couple months of the project will be spent filling soil to get the construction site out of the floodplain.
“It will be about two months before you see construction,” she said.