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Friday, May 27, 2022

Fremont is investing millions in affordable housing projects

FREMONT – In a city where the average home sells for about $ 1.4 million and where hundreds of homeless people sleep every night in tents, campervans and cars, the city has poured over $ 27 million to help create more than 400 affordable apartments in the city. three different proposed housing projects.

A unanimous vote by the Fremont City Council on November 2 to support the projects will help cut the regional housing production target set for the city to help tackle the Bay Area housing crisis. Project developers say the upfront funding will help them compete for other funding sources in the future.

While the three projects will receive a total of $ 27.6 million after the vote, the council also indicated it is willing to spend up to $ 49 million in the city’s affordable housing funds to support projects over time.

“We have an affordable housing crisis and a homelessness crisis, so we definitely need all the affordable housing we can get,” councilor Raj Salwan said in an interview.

“This signals to affordable housing developers that we are serious about affordable housing and are putting money where we need it,” Salwan said of the funding.

“We are making a good faith deposit to promote these projects, and if they do their part, the city will revitalize and continue to support them,” he said.

The three projects were submitted by developers in response to a call from the city to submit proposals for affordable housing in the spring, signaling the city’s intention to spend a significant portion of the affordable housing fees charged to residential and commercial property builders.

“I think this is a sign of the city council’s and city’s continued commitment to providing affordable housing so that Fremont is a community accessible to people of all income levels,” Community Development Director Dan Schönholz said in an interview.

Two of these projects are planned for Osgood Road, where other dense housing has already been built or is planned near the future BART station in Irvington. One of the two sites currently has a home, commercial warehouse and offices, while the other has a warehouse.

Nonprofit developer MidPen Housing of Foster City will receive $ 14 million from city funds to purchase 2.74 acres of land at 41965 and 42021 Osgood Road, as well as prepayment fees, including community outreach and technical research.

The land is currently under the control of a court-appointed manager who took over the property that was owned by Sunnyvale-based developer SiliconSage Builders. SiliconSage Builders is in bankruptcy proceedings following a federal fraud investigation against the company and its owner, Sanjeev Acharya.

Jan Lindenthal, chief real estate development specialist at MidPen, said the city’s advance commitment to finance the project, which could take about five years to complete, will help accelerate the process.

“It’s huge,” she said of the support.

“Funding for affordable housing depends a lot on how you rearrange the pieces, so this early urban slice is critical to getting that momentum,” she said.

According to city reports, the MidPen project could include from 191 apartments at below market prices to 271, built in stages. Approximately 20% of the apartments will be reserved for people earning 30% of the average income in the area or less, which for a couple will have an annual income of no more than $ 33,000.

The rest of the apartments will be reserved for people earning 50% to 60% of the average income in the area, city reports say that for the couple will be roughly $ 55,000 to $ 66,000 a year. Ultimately, the city council may ask for approval of up to $ 11.5 million in funding for the project’s construction.

Another project funded by the city is a 100-unit neighborhood at 41911 Osgood Road, proposed by Idaho-based developer The Pacific Companies and Maracor Development in San Francisco.

The city will provide $ 6 million to support the project, which will include apartments for people who earn between 30% and 80% of the average income in the area, city reports say. It is adjacent to another already approved affordable housing development from Maracor, which will include 111 units at 41829 Osgood Road.

At 3900 Thornton Avenue, on the corner of Post Street off Fremont Boulevard, nonprofit developer Resources for Community Development of Berkeley is planning 128 apartments on approximately one acre of land. Previously, the city approved 54 condominiums here at market prices, but this project has failed.

The city is allocating $ 7.6 million to purchase the site and pay for preparatory work, and later the council may approve another $ 9.7 million to help build it.

Nick Cranmer, Community Development Resource Acquisition Project Manager, said funding the city lowers the financial risk for the nonprofit and demonstrates the political will to build affordable housing.

“This is kind of an early signal from the city that they are involved in a project that we have a financially viable project that they think is a great location close to many infrastructure,” such as Centerville train station, bus lines, shops and grocery stores, Cranmer said.

From 2015 to 2020, 823 affordable apartments were built or authorized in Fremont for people on low and very low incomes, which is 1,000 units less than the target that the city must meet by 2023.

Only 23 moderate-income housing units were built or permitted in Fremont during the same period, according to the City Planning Department, far below ABAG’s target of 956 housing units for the city.

During the same period, 5,384 above average homes were built or allowed in Fremont – mostly at market prices, about 3,500 more than required.

Fremont is expected to increase housing stock by 12,897 people in the upcoming housing demand cycle, which will run from 2023 to 2031, including 5,736 low- and very low-income homes.

While these last three projects may be just a drop in the bucket of what is needed at the regional level, Salwan believes that funding the city and other measures, such as lowering affordable construction fees, are critical.

“I think we watched the ball closely. And I know it never happens, ”Salwan said,“ but we are committed to it and are demonstrating it tangibly. ”

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