June 12, 2002 11:00 pm

Projects in Union and Wallowa counties are among 18 new projects to be funded by Oregon Housing and Community Services.

OHCS announced in Salem that among the 18 projects to share in the $32 million being handed out this spring are the following:

• A $658,900 grant to help build 11 independent-living apartments for low- and very-low income elderly and disabled persons in Island City.

• An award of $492,322 for the purchase and rehabilitation of a 28-unit apartment complex for low-income families and individuals in Enterprise.

The first of those grants is for a new development on Emily Drive off Walton Road in Island City near the water tower.

"We'll have to put in a new, short street addition to get to the apartments," said Margaret Davidson of Community Connections of Northeast Oregon, which was awarded the grant.

"These units will be similar to the ones we have in Union and Elgin," Davidson said. Just as those units are, the new apartments will be owned by Coleman and Chrisman Insurance of Wallowa, which will also have a loan to help with the construction.

Davidson said proper zoning had already been granted, but she does not expect construction to begin before next spring.

The money for the Enterprise work on the Wallowa Alpine Village Apartments at 303 Residence St. will be combined with a $50,000 grant from the state's housing trust fund and $53,324 from the state weatherization fund to account for the total of $595,000 for the project.

"We're looking at preserving the existing apartments and want to expand on the current building by adding a community building and an office," said Maggie LaMont, executive director of the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority. The authority now manages the existing HUD multi-family property.

LaMont said it will take a few months to sign the loan agreements with the state before going out for bids on the work.

"We probably won't start construction until spring," she said.

The work includes putting new siding on the existing building, putting in new windows and interior items such as new stoves, LaMont said.

The money is part of the HOME investment partnership program, which makes money available for the development of affordable housing for low- and very-low income individuals and families and encourages partnerships among state agencies, local governments, not-for-profit as well as for-profit organizations.