PILOT ROCK- Senior citizens looking to down-size their homes and live a simpler lifestyle will have the opportunity to apply for residency in an apartment at Birch Creek Manor II, an extension of Birch Creek Manor, under construction on Second Street.

The Pilot Rock Housing and Development Board broke ground March 25 on the new facility. When complete, Birch Creek Manor II will have five two-bedroom units with living rooms, kitchens and a washer and dryer. Each unit will be about 835 square feet, said Housing Board President Art Falk.

Birch Creek Manor I houses eight, 570-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments for low income senior citizens.

"People really wanted a two-bedroom unit, not necessarily to use the second room as a bedroom, but to keep a lot of their personal belongings stored," Falk said of the decision to build larger apartments. "You know, stuff like their antiques."

Housing board member Holly Miller said the apartments are a way for some seniors to down-size from larger family homes to a simpler way of life.

"Some people just need something simpler and smaller," Miller said.

Both Birch Creek Manor I and II are housing facilities for low-income seniors at least 60 years of age. Eligible residents often qualify for Section 8 housing.

"It's strictly limited by income levels," Falk said. "It's regulated by the government."

Manor II has been several years in the making, Falk said. Three times the housing board applied for grant funding from the Oregon Housing and Community Foundation. The first two applications were denied, but the third time turned out to be a charm.

"We're just so proud to be getting something," Miller said.

Miller noted there will be a community room in the new facility that will be available for residents to have family gatherings, use a computer or simply socialize with other residents. Floor plans are available for viewing at Miller's office at Sterling Savings Bank.

Manor II will be built next to a 200-year-old chestnut tree in an effort to preserve the tree, Miller said.

WC Construction of Elgin, which won the bid for the building's contract, will complete Manor II by Sept. 30, Falk said. Residents should be able to move in by mid-October.

Falk declined to say what the building's budget is slated for, nor how much WC Construction's contract with Birch Creek Manor is.

Applications for residency will become available in July. Applicants must qualify for low-income housing (about $17,500 per year income for a single person or $20,000 per year for a couple) and must be at least 60 years old.

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