The Clovis City Council this week committed $1.2 million to a new affordable housing project in the city, which has a drastically low amount of housing for low-income families.
The council's 4-0 vote Monday commits the money to the 58-unit Jefferson Affordable Housing Project on De Wolf Avenue north of Shaw Avenue in an area commonly called Loma Vista.
Councilmember Vong Mouanouatoua was absent.
Assuming Clovis-based developer Affordable Housing Development Corp.pulls down about $22 million in federal and state tax credits, the project would cost about $26 million to complete, according to Austin Herzog, president of the corporation.
The three-story project on less than three acres could benefit from extra tax credit dollars coming into Fresno County following last year’s devastating Creek Fire, he noted.
“It’s imperative that we do have some community involvement and community funding,” Herzog said. “It helps with the tiebreakers and to leverage up those other public funds that are available.”
The Jefferson name comes from a nearby canal of the same name, according to the developer.
Councilmember Bob Whalen expressed some concerns over a rendering of Jefferson, which he said looked liked a government housing design from the 1950s or ‘60s.
“One thing we’re really trying to get away from is the old projects look,” he said. “That’s a little bit concerning for me.”
Herzog said the black-and-white renderings don’t do the project justice. The design comes from a structure in Chico and the developer is recycling the design to meet a tight deadline for the tax credit application next month.
He said the project includes open spaces and shared gathering rooms for tenants. “We’ll break up the exterior of the building with many different textures and colors, roof line, etc.,” he said.
The design is also important to meet the density needed and include parking, he said.
Clovis lacks affordable housing, but why that is so continues to be under debate.
Clovis was found to be not in compliance with the state Housing Element Law, which requires all local governments to “adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community.”
City officials argue they have made land available for high-density housing throughout the city, but it takes interested developers to make those projects move. The city also struggles to pull down state and federal subsidies that could be used to entice developers, officials say.
More than 1,100 units were built in Clovis in 2020 and not a single one fits the state standard of low-income affordable, despite the city being sued in 2019 for years of lacking affordable housing.
The Butterfly Gardems broke ground May 14. Butterfly has wrap-around services for people who have been homeless and need assistance for mental health, drug abuse and other issues.
The Jefferson project is aimed at low-income families and tenants, who are vetted with criminal background checks, Herzog said. The project does not have the kind of 24/7 services on site that would be associated with housing aimed at people trying to transition from homelessness.
There are some social services on-site, like after school programs or job skills assistance, according to officials.
The housing would be prioritized for families making 60% of the area median income, which for a family of four would be $42,420.
As the Loma Vista area continues to fill out. the access to the public buses in the area is expected to increase, according to Andrew Haussler, the city’s community and economic development director.
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