Is supply catching up to demand for affordable housing? | SierraSun.com

Is supply catching up to demand for affordable housing?

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunNew affordable housing units are being built at Gray's Crossing. These units are pre-fab and are now being placed on their foundations using cranes.

With the Town of Truckee Planning Commission’s go-ahead on the Alder Drive workforce housing project on Tuesday and construction moving quickly across the road at Gray’s Crossing, more affordable housing options are on the horizon.

The Alder Drive apartment project, also known as Frishman Hollow, will initially see eight four-plex buildings, with a total of 32 rental units. When the project is completed, there will be 60 to 70 units.

Meanwhile, across Highway 89 north near the Interstate 80 interchange, construction crews at Gray’s Crossing have been busy this week as pre-fabricated modular apartments are being set onto concrete foundations. The Gray’s Crossing affordable housing project is a joint effort between developer East West Partners, Pacific West Communities, and the town to construct 92, two and three-bedroom rental units.

“They’re setting [the modular units] as we speak,” Rick McConn, project manager for Gray’s Crossing, told town officials on Tuesday.

Caleb Roope, president and CEO of Pacific West Communities, said the introduction of modular technology is a less expensive way to build.

“It can still look very beautiful,” Roope said, adding that a building will be in place by the end of the week.

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McConn said the Gray’s Crossing apartments will be ready for occupancy by April.

Existing multi-family housing in Truckee ” such as Truckee Pines, Sierra Village, and River Village ” currently offer rent-restricted units, but come with waiting lists of typically more than a year, said Rachelle Pellissier, executive director of the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe.

Doreen Plasse, Intero Real Estate property manager, told planners that she has seen a need for more affordable two-bedroom rental apartments geared toward young people just starting out or couples trying to start a family in the area.

“I have 20 calls a day,” whenever there is an available listing for a one- or two-bedroom unit, Plasse said. “We need 50 more projects like [Frishman Hollow].”

Truckee resident Evan Langfeldt told planners he has a friend who recently moved to Truckee from San Francisco and pays more in rent living in town than she did living in the city. He said he supported the Frishman Hollow affordable housing.

“If you’re living there it doesn’t necessarily mean that you live in a slum,” Langfeldt said.

Pellissier said Frishman Hollow will give the local workforce a place “to live in dignity.”

Andrea Clark, vice president and special projects for Pacific West Communities, said the company wanted to “create an intimate neighborhood street” type of atmosphere in Frishman Hollow.

To be eligible for the Frishman Hollow apartments potential applicants must earn 50 to 60 percent of the median income in Nevada County, as determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, Pellesier said.

“They can’t make above that to qualify,” she said.

Pellissier said the income restriction means the renter is ” not spending any more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing costs, which includes not just rent but utilities.”

The median income is calculated based on household size, and changes yearly. The 50 to 60 percent income percentile falls in between the very low income bracket (31 to 50 percent) and low income (51 to 80 percent).

The Gray’s Crossing apartments will also have the same median income requirements, according to McConn.

Pellissier said that once the Gray’s Crossing units are finished a property manager will most likely use a lottery or a first-come, first-serve method to decide who the apartments will be rented to. There are stipulations to offer housing to staff in certain scenarios, but “I doubt Gray’s Crossing can do that,” she said. “They’d be treated just like anyone else.”

– According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s income limits for 2006 for a family of four living in Nevada County:

Very low income: $32,100 median income

Low income: $51,350 median income

Median income in the area: $64,200

– For more information about CDHC check out their Web site, http://www.hcd.ca.gov.