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Friday, 21 March 2014 02:02

Turlock Opens New 80-Unit Affordable Housing Complex

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| | Alex Cantatore/TurlockCityNews.com|
Two years ago, the City of Turlock broke ground on the most ambitious affordable housing project in the city’s history.

On Thursday, officials formally celebrated the grand opening of Avena Bella, a state-of-the-art facility which meets green building standards and has already changed hundreds of lives.

“Now, two years later, look at what we have,” said Judy Binsacca, chair of the EAH Housing Board of Directors.
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The 80-unit, $17 million facility was developed by EAH Housing, a San Rafael-based nonprofit housing corporation, in partnership with the City of Turlock. EAH representatives said the entire project, located at 500 W. Linwood Ave., went from concept to grand opening in four years – a new record for the corporation.

“Quite honestly, we think four years is too long,” said Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden.

The 100 percent affordable housing development offers two and three-bedroom apartments. Rents on the two-bedroom units range from $317 to $736 per month, depending on household size and income, while three-bedroom unit rents range from $374 to $858.

But most importantly, those apartments are making a difference in the lives of 80 local families.

“I’m excited thinking of all the lives we have been able to touch,” said an emotional Turlock Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt. “... It makes it all worth it, truly.”
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Avena Bella resident Nicole Esparza was previously living in a one-bedroom Turlock home with her four daughters. The house, in a bad part of town, was victimized with an attempted break-in while Esparza and her daughters were sleeping one night.

But then, on Christmas Eve, Esparza received the call that she had been accepted to move into Avena Bella.

“I wanted a stair-stepper for Christmas,” Esparza said with a laugh. “I got one; I’m on the third floor.”

Now, Esparza and her daughters have a safe place to live. And she’s taking advantage of the community’s numerous built-in services, getting help with her resume from the community’s resource coordinator.

In addition to resume help, the resource coordinator runs after-school programs and has established a neighborhood watch. And all residents have access to a community computer lab, pool, community room, play structure, and community garden.
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Utilities costs have gone down for Esparza too, thanks to the community’s numerous green features.The development incorporates solar panels, energy-efficient heating and cooling using heat pumps, an energy recovery ventilation system that brings in fresh, filtered outside air, and super-efficient roofing. Developers expect Avena Bella to achieve LEED Gold certification, and to be GreenPoint Rated.

The units themselves feature granite countertops, maple cabinets, and energy-efficient appliances.

“Affordable doesn’t have to mean ‘Not a great place to live,’” Wasden said.

Though stories like Esparza’s are common in Avena Bella, many more Turlockers are in need of affordable housing. As of Wednesday, 530 families remain on the waiting list for an Avena Bella apartment.

“Clearly, we still have a lot more work to do,” said Mary Murtaugh, President and CEO of EAH Housing.
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The City of Turlock is currently planning the second phase of Avena Bella, consisting of another 61 units. Those units would be one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Development of Phase II is contingent upon financing, however, and the City of Turlock is currently in the midst of a debate with the State of California regarding that funding.

Turlock Mayor John Lazar called upon Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to restore redevelopment funding, which made projects like Avena Bella possible. Since the state legislature put an end to redevelopment as a budget-saving measure in 2011, cities have no mechanism to build affordable housing.

If all goes well, Phase II could be financed as soon as this summer.
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Alex Cantatore/TurlockCityNews.com
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Comments (15)

  1. neighbor

This apartment complex has brought lots of people walking late at night on the neighboring streets and my neighbors have had people looking in their house. We as neighbors weren't given much notice to go the the council meetings to protest this,...

This apartment complex has brought lots of people walking late at night on the neighboring streets and my neighbors have had people looking in their house. We as neighbors weren't given much notice to go the the council meetings to protest this, we found out the day of the meeting. All of the local business's near there have had issues as well. It brought bad news to the neighboring streets, we now have cars racing down the next street over all hours of the day and night. I have already heard of drugs being sold from there as well. And this is right down the street from a school. Go figure.

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  1. Mike Oxhard

I know on the back side of this complex Im told that many people drive to and fro at speeds between 45 and 120 miles per hour! that is bs. Some of the people on the back side that are driving by the complex are looking into the complex also. OH my

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  1. Mike Oxlittle

The Freeway is on the back side

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  1. Mike Oxsbig

Your catching on

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If you lived on Linwood or near this complex you wouldn't be making fun of the issues that we as home owners are having to deal with. It has already lowered the value of our homes because of the complex. Some of the neighbors are trying to sell...

If you lived on Linwood or near this complex you wouldn't be making fun of the issues that we as home owners are having to deal with. It has already lowered the value of our homes because of the complex. Some of the neighbors are trying to sell their home and get away from there. It used to be a quiet and peaceful area to live until this complex opened. Since there is a school on Linwood they go to the next block which is Montana Ave and speed down the street. There are always people hanging out in front, the business's that are there have to put up fences and have already been broken into since the apartments went in.

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  1. Really neighbors...?

It sounds like some of you neighbors are just bitter that this new complex makes the rest of that area look like crap as it looks more like the apartments here on the north side on Christofferson, but for a fraction of the cost. Personally I...

It sounds like some of you neighbors are just bitter that this new complex makes the rest of that area look like crap as it looks more like the apartments here on the north side on Christofferson, but for a fraction of the cost. Personally I think it's great that these families now have a safe place to call home, such as the woman and her children in the article. Those are children that may have otherwise grown up in rough neighborhoods, and gotten into illegal activities. But now they'll live in a community where they are provided with computers and after school help, which everyone knows reduces the likelihood of getting into trouble or juvenile hall. If they live there til high school and are able to utilize the resume building program that then leads to them gettig a job, then I'd say the project was worth it if it's able to make that big of a difference in someone's life, and I'm glad Turlock recognizes the importance of helping those who are less fortunate. Turlock is a pretty Christian town and so as per Christian values, should be dedicated to helping the poor and less fortunate. Whether that's through food or housing programs, or other services, Turlock should do everything we can to help others instead of complaining about the poor. Jesus didn't turn away the poor, and he certainly didn't turn away children. So stop your complaining and see the good in this project. And idk if you "neighbors" (who aren't being very neighborly) believe in god but if you do, you'd see that you're not acting like Christ and not loving your neighbor as yourself. You're equating "low income" with "criminal" but they're not synonymous, and as City manager Wasden said, "affordable doesn't have to mean it can't be a great place to live." Just because they're low income doesn't mean they can't have nice things too, and I'm sure we'd all take a higher quality option for less if we could...Especially if it means our children are safe.

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  1. oodi

To Really neighbors...?

Since you state in your comment "here on the north side on Christofferson" you apparently live on the north side, and therefore have no first hand knowledge of what is going on in the neighborhood in question. How...

To Really neighbors...?

Since you state in your comment "here on the north side on Christofferson" you apparently live on the north side, and therefore have no first hand knowledge of what is going on in the neighborhood in question. How Christian of you to assume that the neighbors in that area are just bitter and equating poor people with criminals.

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  1. To neighbor

Government housing always brings a bad element with it. These apartments might look nice now but they're going to be ghettofied and covered in graffiti within a few months, just wait. It's going to be the kind of place where people who should...

Government housing always brings a bad element with it. These apartments might look nice now but they're going to be ghettofied and covered in graffiti within a few months, just wait. It's going to be the kind of place where people who should have jobs but don't hang out on porches all day. Ever heard the term "the projects" before? That is exactly what this is.

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So basically I am supposed to let them into my yard, that I have worked hard for, to take what they want and not do anything about this. They may look nice, but it isn't nice when you come home and find someone in your yard looking in your house....

So basically I am supposed to let them into my yard, that I have worked hard for, to take what they want and not do anything about this. They may look nice, but it isn't nice when you come home and find someone in your yard looking in your house. Why did the business's have to put up fences? To keep people from stealing from them and we didn't have this before the apartments went in. We didn't have cars racing up and down the street at all hours of the night and me as a Christian should be ok with this. It is not that I am not being Christian and not wanting to help people. but it has turned our once quiet neighborhood into what you say theses people have escaped from.

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  1. Realistic

To "really neighbors..."

Sorry to state the obvious here but you sir/ma'am are completely and entirely clueless! You are one of these fools who believe everyone should be happy and have nice things and live comfortably... NO!!! Not true as long...

To "really neighbors..."

Sorry to state the obvious here but you sir/ma'am are completely and entirely clueless! You are one of these fools who believe everyone should be happy and have nice things and live comfortably... NO!!! Not true as long as everybody isn't willing to put forth at least some effort and TRY. Try to make something better of themselves. You are for socialism, that's how I read your post. Please tell me what's fair about say, my wife and I working tirelessly for what we have and then get to see lazy drug dealing jerks chillaxing on their porch 7days a week popping out kids who run rampant destroying and defacing things and eventually racing, stealing, not going to school or working and becoming just like their parents. All this while living in nice brand new 3 bedroom apartments for $375 a month or whatever it is and collecting free food money that I pay for and all the while they're bringing down home values and making the city less safe for our children and robbing out homes. Sure, there's some good ones but I assure you, the majority are not, and will never be anything. That's the sad truth. I don't live next to this complex but I feel for the homeowners there. I too would be forced to cut my losses and leave. It WILL continue to go downhill and spread like fire. Seen it happen too many times. Coming from stockton, trust me I know what I'm talking about. Go read up in stockton and places like it. Keep affordable housing in the ghettos, don't force this stuff on nice honest people it makes me sick.

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