Workforce housing group lands grant |

Workforce housing group lands grant

The Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe had the plans and the desire to expand into a more aggressive housing agency. All it was missing was the funding.But a $245,000 grant from the S.H. Cowell Foundation that was recently awarded to the expanding association will solve that, and at the same time help the association move from an advocacy group to a hands-on affordable housing agency. The grant will be awarded to WHATT over the next couple years.”This is the first piece of the funding we need to achieve our goals,” said WHATT Executive Director Rachelle Pellissier, when she announced the successful grant application at the Truckee Town Council meeting Thursday night. “We’re on our way.”The S.H. Cowell Foundation, which fights poverty among children in Northern California, has a long history of involvement in the area. The foundation has invested more than $1.6 million in children’s programs in Kings Beach. The San Francisco-based philanthropy organization also gave the workforce housing association $25,000 to start the association in 2003.”We’ve been working with [the foundation] for years now,” Pellissier said. “They’re very familiar with the area. They’ve put nearly $2 million into the Kings Beach and Truckee areas in the last couple of years.”The funding is especially important because it comes before the association begins working on specific projects. Association members know that there will be other sources of income, in the way of developer fees and from local municipalities. But the grant is important because it allows the housing group to get off the ground, Pellissier said.”This allows us to have the up front funding,” she said. “Most of the projects you get funded [after the fact], but you need the staff and the resources to get the project done.”Rick Jacobus, a consultant who wrote WHATT’s new business plan, said the housing group is necessary to maintain affordable units planned for Truckee.”You have an enormous amount of units that are about to be built, but you won’t have that number if you don’t have someone to make sure that they stay affordable,” Jacobus said.The quarter-million-dollar grant will be dedicated to organizational expansion, allowing the group to hire staff to eventually manage affordable housing, attract affordable housing developers to town and possibly even buy land.When asked what the next step for WHATT is, Pellissier had a quick and concise answer.”Get to work,” she said.

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