Walnut Place an Answer to High Home Costs in California
Recognizing ingenuity in the development, construction and marketing of affordable workforce housing, NAHB honored five communities with its Innovation in Workforce Housing Awards at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. in January. In an effort to bring attention to outstanding examples of workforce housing, Nation’s Building News is showcasing the winners of the award in a series of articles. The first development in this series is Walnut Place in Greenfield, Calif.
Applications for the 2006 awards are available and the deadline is Oct. 27. For the award guidelines and an entry form, click here.
Developed by CHISPA, (Community Housing Systems and Planning Association), the first two-time winner of the award, affordably priced Walnut Place, was built in Monterey County, Calif., where a median-priced home of $680,000 is well out of reach for a growing number of families.
“It’s getting more challenging every year to provide housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income families,” said David Cooke, CHISPA’s director of real estate development. “This area has a huge pent-up demand and a real lack of [housing] inventory.”
“Recognition from organizations like NAHB helps us demonstrate to our own community the value of the work we do,” Cooke added.
Home buyers in Walnut Place have included teachers, police officers, city employees and households struggling to meet the needs of disabled adults. Because they were in such high demand, the homes were sold through a lottery.
“The city recognizes there is a housing shortage. The country recognizes it. But there is a big contingent of NIMBY resistance,” Cooke said. “We try to educate the public, so people understand that their kids and their kids’ kids will need a place to live.”
Walnut Place is a community of 37 homes on a 10-acre site. Twelve of the homes were constructed using CHISPA’s moderate-income housing program, which provides homeownership opportunities for first-time home buyers whose household earnings don’t exceed 120% of the county’s median family income. Sales prices of the homes ranged from $235,000 to $255,000.
The remaining 25 units were constructed using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Mutual Self-Help Housing, a program in which families contribute a substantial amount of labor to build the homes in the new community so that they can purchase a home at a lower cost. To be eligible to participate, households were required to be first-time buyers earning no more than 80% of the median family income in the county.
Participants in the program have included employees of several of the area’s largest agricultural growers and packaging companies and high-profile companies such as BUD of California, Scheid Vineyards and the Pebble Beach Golf Club and Resorts.
One of the homes was constructed by local students participating in the City of Greenfield's YouthBuild Program, which helps students obtain much-needed job skills.
Various California housing and community development programs were also involved in making Walnut Place a reality.
For more information, e-mail Blake Smith at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8583.
Bobby Lunceford presents a 2005 Innovation in Workforce Housing Award to David Cooke of CHISPA.