ROOSEVELT -- A proposed housing development in Roosevelt for senior citizens received an early Christmas present in the form of a substantial grant from the federal government.

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that a $1.4 million housing assistance grant would go to the Roosevelt Housing Authority to build 19 units to serve low-income elderly residents.The news was an unexpected windfall to the Housing Authority, which had purchased two lots across the street from the Crossroads Senior Center in anticipation of someday generating funds to build the needed apartment units, said Housing Authority Executive Director Cindy Warren.

The lack of affordable housing for a growing population of seniors in the Uintah Basin is a primary concern for the Uintah Basin Association of Governments, the agency that oversees low-income housing in the tri-county area.

It will take about a year to complete mandated federal paperwork, studies and tests that must take place on the property before actual construction work can begin, Warren said.

Of the $1.4 million grant, $1.15 million is earmarked for construction. About $221,000 of the grant will be used over a five-year period to subsidize rent for occupants. Rent payments will be based on income.

"The senior housing development will serve those 62 years and older who fall within the very low-income category," said Warren. In accordance with 1998 income criteria, to be eligible to apply for an apartment, seniors cannot have an income of more than $13,500 for one person or $15,400 for a couple. The 1999 income guidelines are expected to be a bit different, said Warren.

Those who would be eligible for the new senior housing are encouraged to put their names on a waiting list, she said.

Each apartment will have one bedroom. The complex will have two floors, include elevators and be accessible to disabled individuals.

Seniors don't have to live in the area to be eligible for consideration, said Warren.

Of the $696 million in HUD funding awarded to 48 states, Utah received the smallest amount at $1.4 million.