Developer seeks $2 million for affordable housing

Originally published in the June 26, 2013 issue of the Elk Grove Citizen.

The Elk Grove City Council on June 26 will consider whether to conditionally loan $2 million for a proposed affordable housing development.

Pacific West Communities wants to build the proposed Avery Gardens project near Elk Grove Boulevard and Backer Ranch Road.

The property is near the senior living facility Carlton Plaza, the Nugget Market, and two parks.

“Affordable housing,” are housing units that had their costs reduced for low-to-mid-income residents.

The city government has slightly more than $2 million available to lend to developers focusing on extremely low- and very low-income households.

City Housing Program Manager Sarah Bontrager wrote in her staff report to the council that the Affordable Housing Loan Committee reviewed two proposals and decided to potentially move forward with Pacific West Communities.

Timing is an issue for the developer. Pacific West wants to apply for competitive federal and/or state credits, and has to submit an application to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee by July 3.

Bontrager wrote that the developer’s application must include “conclusive evidence that any public funds have been firmly committed to the proposed project and require no further approvals.”

Council members have three options with the affordable housing loan request.

They could approve the request and allow the developer to submit the application.

Council members could deny the loan, which Bontrager wrote could mean the developer would not proceed with the project.

The council could also direct staff to negotiate with the developer and submit an application for tax credit financing next March.

The city’s affordable multifamily housing loan portfolio includes more than $61 million in loans and financial commitments. The 11 projects built over the last decade have resulted in 1,528 units available to low-income households.

Impact fees on residential, commercial, and industrial development fund the city’s ability to provide the loans. Other funding sources include interest and annual loan payments to replenish the amount of available money.

Council members will also review the city’s draft housing element and could direct city staff to submit the document to the state for required review.

This “housing element” is among seven components of a city’s general plan that are mandated by the state.

“The chief goal of the housing element is to plan for all economic segments of the population,” Bontrager said at the Elk Grove Planning Commission meeting on June 6.

She added, “The second goal is to remove barriers to housing in general and specifically affordable housing.”

Commissioners approved the draft document but decided to remove policies aimed at a universal design ordinance and a rental housing inspection program.

Bontrager said the ordinance would require builders of single-family homes to offer customization options to assist people with hearing or vision problems. She said the features would make homes accessible to the disabled and senior populations.

The rental housing inspection program would direct the city’s code enforcement staff to inspect rental housing, and enforce building and municipal code standards.

All forms of rental housing including single- and multi-family units would have to comply with the program.

Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Brian Villanueva, who made the motion to approve the housing element, said the policies would make it harder for people to build and rent houses in Elk Grove.

Council members will also discuss the materials reuse room and recycling center at the special waste collection center that is currently under construction and is expected to open later this year.

Other agenda items include presenting awards for the 2013 May is Bike Month event activities and potentially implementing a Key to the City program.

The June 26 council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the council chambers, 8400 Laguna Palms Way.

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