Placer promises contribution valued at $8M for Auburn workforce housing project
Published on June 11, 2019
A workforce housing proposal in North Auburn got a boost today with the Placer County Board of Supervisors voting to contribute assets valued at nearly $8 million toward the $37.7 million project.
The 79-unit development is planned at the Placer County Government Center campus on county-owned land. In June 2018, the board approved an agreement with Mercy Housing California to develop the project, including an option for Mercy to lease the land - valued at $1.98 million - for 99 years at a cost of $1 a year.
“It really is difficult and expensive to build housing projects like this,” said District 1 Supervisor Bonnie Gore. “It takes all of us working together to find and provide funding to make them feasible and meet housing needs in our community.”
Placer’s $7.95 million contribution is a critical measure of support for Mercy’s pending application for low-income housing tax credits to help fund the project. More than $706,000 would come from the Placer County Housing Trust Fund to cover the cost of development and processing fee offsets and credits, with the rest comprised of non-cash contributions including land, housing vouchers and funding from two pending grant applications with the state totaling more than $4.5 million. The state is scheduled to announce both grant awards in June.
While Placer’s support is a major milestone for the housing project, a lawsuit filed last month by Concerned Citizens for Community and Public Lands against the county’s Placer County Government Center Master Plan update threatens to halt its construction.
Concerned Citizens states in the filing that its intent is not to target the housing project with the litigation. But because the project relies on the development standards and environmental analysis approved in the master plan update, financing and construction of the project are threatened unless the lawsuit is resolved.
The suit challenges the adequacy of the master plan’s environmental impact report, focusing on demolition of the DeWitt Theater, which the plan could eventually allow. Though the master plan update could allow for the theater’s demolition, the board’s approval of the master plan in April included a provision that allows community members up to two years to organize funding to rehabilitate the theater before the county would make any decisions about its future.
“We’re disappointed by this legal roadblock to such a critical, needed housing project, but we need to continue to do everything we can to keep it moving while we defend ourselves against this wasteful and costly litigation,” said Board Chair Kirk Uhler.
The county’s contribution to the project will only be applied if Mercy’s low-income housing tax credits and state grants are awarded, required project approvals are obtained and the project is built.