SAN LUIS OBISPO (California) TRIBUNE

August 8, 2017

 

Atascadero to get 60 units of affordable farmworker housing this fall

BY LINDSEY HOLDEN

 

A Los Angeles-based housing nonprofit has big plans for a soon-to-be-completed 60-unit Atascadero housing development that will cater to farmworkers.

The Corporation for Better Housing is finishing up the first phase of The Knolls at Avenida, located at 9355 Avenida Maria, off El Camino Real on the south side of town. The final development is to feature 86 units, although the nonprofit has yet to secure funding for the rest of the housing.

The complex will cover 4 acres and will be made up of 22 two-bedroom apartments, 24 three-bedroom units and 14 four-bedroom units in three buildings, according to CBH and Walsh Engineering. The Knolls development will also generate 100 percent of its own energy through solar panels, according to CBH.

CBH will begin accepting applications in September and plans to fill all the apartments by the end of the year, said Lori Koester, the organization’s executive director.

The complex was built with loans that the U.S. Department of Agriculture allocates for farm labor housing and will also receive rental assistance from the agency. In addition, CBH used state low-income housing tax credits, which give investors tax breaks in exchange for helping to fund developments.

The Atascadero City Council approved the development in June 2015, and construction began about a year ago, said Jake Lingo, senior vice president of Integrated Community Development, which is working on the complex.

All 60 units will be occupied by agricultural workers, Lingo said. Residents’ salaries must fall between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income, which is $83,200, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A family of four earning $40,850 per year would make about 50 percent of the area median income, according to HUD.

“When we saw the market demand for this housing, we jumped all over it,” Lingo said.

CBH has nearly 70 developments all over California, including another farmworker complex in Calistoga, in Napa County. The organization recently came under fire from a Bakersfield Californian columnist who heard from residents in a local complex frustrated about a lack of security services and an unresponsive new management company.

“Every once in a while, we’re presented with a challenge,” Koester said. “We’re not running away from it.”

Lingo and Koester said CBH is addressing those problems and is in the process of working with its management company. They both said CBH remains actively involved with all its complexes.

“We’re really excited to become part of Atascadero,” Lingo said.`