• Harbor Manor in Hoquiam among statewide housing purchase

    TUKWILLA, Wash. – When a portfolio of nine privately owned Section 8-assisted housing complexes located in five counties scattered across Washington state was offered for sale last spring, the King County Housing Authority spearheaded a collaborative effort to purchase it. The housing authorities of Bremerton, Grays Harbor County, Yakima, and Chelan County and the City of Wenatchee participated in assuring the preservation of a total of 337 homes within the various communities.

    “If they lost their housing because it got too expensive, they couldn’t take a second job to pencil it out. Now they can sleep at night in a safe, stable place to live, which is what anybody would want for their mom or dad, grandma or grandpa.”

    The unusual collective strategy – which represents the most wide-ranging state initiative to date to preserve existing subsidized housing – was necessary because the seller wanted to dispose of the portfolio as a single sale. Failure to acquire even one of the nine properties would have resulted in failure to preserve any of the properties. The current owner, who was also the initial developer and long-term owner of the properties, worked with the housing authority to try to assure long-term preservation of these apartments as affordable housing.

    “Preserving existing subsidized housing is the most cost-effective way to maintain the supply of affordable rental apartments,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. “Working with the state Department of Commerce, King County government and housing authorities across the state, we have been able to protect 337 low-income households, the vast majority of them senior citizens, from being forced from their homes – and at the same time, have preserved for the long-term, crucial local housing resources.”

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  • Health Insurer to Issue Refunds After Billing Error

    BREMERTON, Wash. – KPS Health Plans, a Bremerton-based health insurer, has agreed to refund thousands of dollars to customers who were overcharged due to a billing system error.

    Approximately 235 customers are believed to have been billed at incorrect rates. Of those, 61 had the incorrect amount deducted from their bank accounts. Others received incorrect billing statements.

    Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has requested the company issue refunds and notify customers about the problem. KPS has said it will issue refunds right away with letters of apology to customers.

    The company has agreed to pay for any insufficient funds charges incurred by customers as a result of these overcharges. KPS will also post on its website a notice to customers about the problem.

    Starting in mid-April, Kreidler’s office began receiving complaints from consumers about the overbilling, including one customer who said it amounted to about $100 extra.

    “I’m disappointed that we had to hear about this problem first from policyholders, rather than from the company itself,” said Kreidler.

    KPS customers with questions can call the company or contact Kreidler’s office at 1-800-562-6900.

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  • Mason County Deputy Rescues Woman From Burning House

    Tahuya WA – The Mason County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible suicide attempt on May 17, 2012 at 5:51 AM.  While responding to find the victim, Mason County Deputy Sheriff Ruben Castillo found a residence within the 200 block of NE Collins Lake Drive, in Tahuya, fully engulfed in smoke and flames.  Risking his own life, Deputy Castillo ran into the burning structure and pulled out one adult female.  Mason County Fire District #2 responded to the scene and fought the fire.  The woman was airlifted to Harbor View Medical Center in Seattle.  Her name and condition is unknown at this time until her family is notified.  Deputy Castillo was taken to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, where he was treated and released for smoke inhalation.  Firefighters on the scene stated that Deputy Castillo saved the woman’s life and that he is a hero.  The Mason County Sheriff’s Office and Mason County Fire District #2 are investigating the cause of the blaze.

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