Sierra Village opens for business | SierraSun.com

Sierra Village opens for business

Erich Sommer, Sierra Sun

Sierra Village Homes, a 72-unit housing complex just off Highway 267, will officially open Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will include town officials, the project’s developers and residents of the complex.

The ceremony is, however, largely symbolic as most of the units, including all 56 of the apartments deemed affordable housing, have been occupied or reserved for months.

A waiting list is now in place for the affordable housing apartments.

Because of the lack of affordable housing in the region and the extensive approval process that can take up to months, many area residents applied for the affordable units as early as February.

Tenants began moving in in July. And for some, it wasn’t a day too soon.

“If it wasn’t for (affordable housing), we wouldn’t be able to live here,” said Jessica Larrabee, one of the first residents of Sierra Village.

Larrabee, her husband and four children were approved for a four-bedroom, two-bath unit in early June.

“There is no place (in Truckee) that would house us all that doesn’t start at $1,200 a month,” she said.

Monthly rents in the affordable housing apartments at Sierra Village range from $454 to $717.

Larrabee, whose husband is attending Sierra Community College and pursuing a teaching credential, said their current home is larger and cheaper than their previous home in Mammoth Lakes.

“We are paying a hundred dollars a month less than we were paying in Mammoth for a two-bedroom, 90-year old cabin.”

The project, developed by American Community Development Company, also includes two- and three-bedroom units, all of which have full kitchens and two bathrooms.

The two- and four-bedroom apartments are set aside for affordable housing, while the three-bedroom units are offered at market rate.

The complex also includes a clubhouse and a lab with four computers. A playground in the middle of the complex is still under construction.

American Community Development Company partners with developers to build affordable housing under the Housing Tax Credit Program.

“Developers compete against each other, with competition focusing on the quality of the proposed project, its location, the level of city financial support and the scope of the community backing,” said a statement on the company’s Web site.

The developers found that “community backing” from the town, which also contributed significant financial support, was instrumental in the completion of the project.

“Working with them, we pursued a one million dollar home grant,” said Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook.

Home grants from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department are offered through the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

According to Lashbrook, the money was well spent.

“This project came out pretty highly ranked,” he said, referring to the formula used by HUD to rank projects.

Lashbrook said the combination of affordable housing for low income tenants and the size of the units, which oriented them towards families, made it more desirable to the town and to HUD.

He then reiterated the town’s call for more: “We definitely need affordable housing.”

Lashbrook added that while much of the town’s recent focus has been on low income housing opportunities, staff would, at least temporarily, shift its focus to “work force,” or moderate income housing.

Lashbrook said planned projects like The Boulders condominiums community on Deerfield Drive, in which the town required 32 of the 180 condos be sold at reduced rates for moderate incomes, will help meet those needs.

According to Tim Galvin, sales manager at The Boulders, market-rate condos will be priced around $240,000 while the 32 work force housing units will be in the $185,000 range.