Affordable housing for Penn Valley |

Affordable housing for Penn Valley

The Union StaffA front view of one of the styles of low-cost apartments for which ground will be broken today in Penn Valley.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

By summer’s end, the patch of dry, overgrown grass and oak trees at the end of a Penn Valley cul-de-sac could be the standard by which future local low-income housing projects are judged.

That’s the proposed move-in schedule for residents of the 42-unit Courtyards at Penn Valley, a 12-building complex at 10533 Broken Oak Court. An 11 a.m. ground breaking is scheduled for today.

While the project’s backers concede construction of the facility won’t address the area’s long-term needs, it’s a positive start.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Terry Winters, executive director of the Nevada County Housing Development Corp., the company developing the project jointly with Fresno-based Bay Development Group. “Getting affordable housing done in Nevada County is difficult because of the rural setting, and because it’s difficult to find property that’s zoned for it.”

The property was purchased in 1997. The $6.3 million project is being funded by a combination of state housing and community development funds, bonds and block grants from Nevada County.

The complex features 16 two-bedroom, two-bath units at 970 square feet, and 26 three-bedroom, three-bath units at 1,263 square feet. Each apartment features a single carport and washer/dryer hookups. The complex includes a community room with a fireplace and community kitchen.

Rents range from $515 to $626 for the two-bedroom units, and $596 to $725 for three bedrooms.

To qualify, a family of four must earn no more than 60 percent of the median county income – a maximum of $29,280 per year – and have good credit and a steady work history.

According to the task force, as many as 60 percent of Nevada County families could qualify to live in the new complex.

There appears to be little of this type of housing available or on the horizon, WInters said.

Mike Schulte, principal of Bay Development, said building the private project in Nevada County has been difficult.

“This has been the longest development that we’ve ever worked on. Even our big developments don’t take this long,” said Schulte, whose company built a 216-unit affordable-housing complex in Tracy and others in Sacramento and Salinas.

“It’s so hard to get approvals in Nevada County,” Schulte said, attributing the situation to a “no-growth attitude” in the county. Additionally, “it’s not been easy for (the county Board of Supervisors) to work through the negativism that comes with low-income housing projects.”

Nevertheless, Schulte expects the waiting list for the units to fill up at the time a list is created, possibly next month.

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