Truckee’s learning curve and affordable housing | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s learning curve and affordable housing

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

Interest in Spring Creek affordable housing is lower than Truckee town officials expected, and the town is working on figuring out why.

In an attempt to improve public outreach, the Town of Truckee and Truckee River Associates, representing the developer of Spring Creek, hosted a meeting Wednesday with the intention of gaining more prospective on homebuyers.

Originally, as many as 140 people expressed interest in purchasing affordable units at Spring Creek. The developer and town staff thought at the time the units would necessarily be distributed by lottery. However, the number of interested purchasers has dwindled at this point to a mere dozen or so.

Spring Creek “sets the stage as a model” for affordable housing in Truckee, said David Griffith, Town of Truckee redevelopment and housing coordinator. “We will use this experience to adjust projects in the future.”

The first batch of housing includes 14 units which were finished in December 2006.

Of those 14 units, only five remain available, while nine are being held for applicants who have already been approved as qualified purchasers. Another three units will be built in the fall for those already approved as qualified purchasers.

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Upon completion, Spring Creek will include a total of 30 affordable housing units and 36 market-rate housing units. The selling price for the 1,300-square-foot affordable duplex units is $305,000, said Karl Saimre with Truckee River Associates.

Spring Creek’s residential housing is geared toward people earning 120 percent or less of Nevada County’s median income. For example, for a family of four the maximum income in 2006 is $77,000.

A combination of factors has made marketing the units a challenge: the selling price, the down payment amount, and the need for additional mortgage lender resources, Griffith said. Through the example of Spring Creek, the town is learning how to effectively market affordable housing, Griffith said.

The Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe is just starting to look into why the Spring Creek units aren’t selling as quickly as hoped, said Rachelle Pellissier, WHATT’s executive director. The StoneRidge Townhomes “sold like hotcakes” before they were even completed, she said, but maybe the community needs to look at Spring Creek as “the glass is half full” since nine of the first 14 units have sold.

Also, the housing market has been slow all the way around, Pellissier said.

“Buying a home at all is very scary,” Pellissier said, especially for first-time buyers without any previous knowledge of mortgage lenders.

The Town of Truckee applied for and received state funding for the BEGIN program, which assists first-time homebuyers with down payment loans. The program is available for all 30 affordable housing units at Spring Creek and offers a $30,000 maximum loan per eligible household. Other forms of assistance are available through the Town of Truckee, with up to an additional $10,000 per household potentially available in a loan from the town.

The BEGIN program is available to potential buyers who have not held title within the last three years, Griffith said. In addition, “displaced homeowners” ” such as a divorced parent ” can also qualify for the program. He said the town is working on how to better educate the community about affordable housing financing options.

Interested buyers at Wednesday’s meeting “asked a bunch of intelligent questions,” mostly about down payment programs, Saimre said.

“Everyone’s on the learning curve with this,” he said.