Regional housing trust fund in the works for Nevada County
Nevada County is working with Grass Valley and Nevada City on a regional housing trust fund that could allow them to obtain more funding and coordinate more closely to increase affordable housing in the county.
Over the last several council meetings in both cities, officials have been laying the groundwork for agreements to work together on funding applications and potentially increasing their funding through state or federal matching programs.
The regional fund would in the long run create a platform for collaboration, reduce duplicated grant application efforts and make it easier to share costs on mutually beneficial projects.
In the short term, however, the goal is to take advantage of five years of funding and matching contributions available through the California Permanent Local Housing Allocation program, which aims to increase the supply of affordable housing in the state. The program, funded by Senate Bill 2, allocated a total of $667,000 to Grass Valley; $394,000 to Nevada City; and $1.53 million to Nevada County.
Jurisdictions are able to fund a variety of programs with the money, but potential trust fund participants have focused on a few uses, including developing affordable housing, assisting people at-risk for homelessness, and providing infrastructure for local housing nonprofits.
The county has committed $650,000 in long-term loans, including $50,000 in mental health funding, toward a 56-unit housing complex in Nevada City known as Cashin’s Field. Nevada City also committed more than $150,000 of its funding to help get the project off the ground.
The 51,000-square-foot complex, slated for 170 Ridge Road, would feature six buildings with some as high as three stories, a community center, play areas, and open green space. The complex would include 11 one-bedroom units, 30 two-bedroom units, and 15 three-bedroom units, with one manager unit and 81 parking spaces. Social programs, which are part of the project’s funding requirement, could include after-school programs, along with personal finance, resume building and English as a Second Language classes.
However, due to the project’s funding makeup, which includes special disaster tax credits and federal Disaster Recovery Multifamily Housing Program funding that stem from the 2017 Lobo Fire, the approval process needs to be expedited to use the funds in time.
This means the city will only be able to review the project using objective criteria, not by discretionary standards like whether a development matches the city’s aesthetic, meaning the community concerns about increased traffic and the single exit for the project will also need to be quelled quickly.
The project will go before the Nevada City Planning Commission June 18. If funding is approved, developers expect construction to begin spring 2021 with families able to move in summer 2022.
Memorandums of Understanding for the trust fund are still being developed and could be on the agenda for next month’s council meetings, though no date has been set.
“Collaboration always speaks well on us when we’re going after cash,” Grass Valley Council member Howard Levine said at a council meeting this week. “I think it’s an opportunity for us and we should move forward on it.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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The current level of active construction in western Nevada County is normal for this time of year, according to Barbara Bashall, government affairs manager with the Nevada County Contractors’ Association.