Housing Project Christened in South Tulare

Originally published in the August 20, 2014 issue of Visalia Times-Delta

By:  Kyle Harvey - Visalia Times-Delta

After a two-year process of planning and construction, nearly every apartment in The Aspens, a low-income housing community in south Tulare, is now occupied. A small ceremony and open house were held Wednesday to mark the occasion.

The approximately $17 million project is comprised of 47 units.  Each unit is either two or three bedrooms. Billed as "workforce housing," eligible tenants can earn up to 60 percent of the median household income for Tulare County, or slightly more than $26,000.

Funding for the project and others like it around the state comes mostly from investments by private corporations in exchange for federal and state tax credits. Significant funding was also provided by the City of Tulare ($2,000,000) and the Housing Authority of Tulare County ($1,000,000).

The open house attracted a visit by Rep. Devin Nunes who toured the facility and met with residents and officials with the Housing Authority.

Tulare Vice Mayor Carlton Jones also attended the ceremony to congratulate all involved parties.

"People who want to save money to buy [homes] - can," he said.

Jones told the small crowd that he lived in a similar housing project as a child, when his father worked for the Housing Authority. Today Jones lives a short walk from the new neighborhood, which falls within his city council district.

Being so close to them I can be their voice on the council," he said.

Kenia Gutierrez is one of the new residents. She lives there with her boyfriend and their three children.

This has been a really great opportunity for my family and [me] to live here," she said.

Gutierrez said she'd lived in another income-based apartment before, but that the environment wasn't as good.

"The rent was low but the area wasn't safe," she said. "There was a lot of drug activity and gang members."

With its playground, adult education classes and health and wellness services, she says her new neighborhood is "more than livable."

She's especially pleased with the apartment's energy efficiency.

"Before my [electricity] bill was enormous," she said. "Now it's one third of what I used to pay."

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