By midwinter, area senior citizens could receive some much-needed housing relief.

Construction on the Grand Vista Apartments, a complex of 27 single-bedroom units, began in September. The apartments could be ready for use as early as December or January.The apartments, at approximately 101 N. Peteetneet Blvd. (600 East), have been designed for middle- to low-income senior citizens in the Payson area, said a local broker who helped bring the project to the area.

"It's my understanding that this project will be a great relief to many of the area's elderly," said Ken Orton, owner of Nebo Agency Inc.

Orton said work on the project began almost two years ago when Nebo Agency was contacted by Payson-Utah II Associates, a group started by Terry Campbell and James Hogue that built similar projects in Arizona, Wyoming and Cedar City.

Financing for the project is through Farmers Home Administration, a federal agency that requires projects to be in rural areas, such as those with population less than 10,000, and residents housed in the apartments be from those areas.

To be considered for the apartment project, applicants must be 62 years or older, earn less than $13,000 annually and reside in Payson, Santaquin, Salem, Goshen, Genola or Elk Ridge. Rent will be based on the renter's annual income, with no more than 30 percent going toward rent and utilities.

Orton said rent has been structured so no one will pay more than $285 monthly, and Farmers Home Administration will fund the difference for renters with not enough income to afford that rate.

"The building will be extremely modern and energy-efficient, so no one will have to pay more than that for rent and utilities."

The director of Payson's Senior Citizens Center said the timing on such a project couldn't have been any better.

"This will help a lot of older people when they could really use the help," Elmer Jones said. "Especially with the news of less help from Medicare, a lot of the area's elderly are not going to be able to afford housing."

Jones said many senior citizens in the valley already have been unable to pay rent and utility bills and still afford food and other necessities.

"Some of them are really having a hard time making ends meet, and that's very sad."

The center provides meals for many in the city and surrounding areas who are unable to afford or incapable of making their own meals, sometimes with as many as 70 elderly residents attending the dinners, he said.

Perhaps with the apartment building being constructed, many area landlords will be forced to lower their rental rates to the elderly, Jones said.

"(The elderly) make excellent tenants and really care for the apartments and areas that they live in."

Both Nebo Agency and Jones said they already have been swamped with calls and requests for applications for the apartments. For more information, contact Orton, 465-3007, or Jones, 465-9724.