In Dublin, California, an Affordable Housing Success Story

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While America’s major metropolitan cities often take center stage in national issues, the country’s smaller cities and towns have a culture, vibrancy and uniqueness all their own. This June, we’re highlighting small cities looking to the future as part of Small Cities Month 2018.

The Arroyo Vista public housing development, the only such venue in the city of Dublin, California, population 59000, was falling into disrepair. The costs to improve or rebuild the 150-unit development could not be borne by the city alone.

To meet the goal of transforming this deteriorating low-density property — into a mixed-use and mixed-income complex offering several housing types in a geographically hot housing market — the city engaged with partners from both the private and nonprofit sectors and secured support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to allow for privately owned housing on the part of the redeveloped site.

In addition to the city of Dublin and the Dublin Housing Authority, the main partners included Eden Housing, one of California’s oldest and most successful nonprofit developers, and KB Home, a market-rate home builder.

The redevelopment of what is now called Emerald Vista was completed in December 2012. The community contains 180 affordable rental units: 50 for seniors and 130 for families, including units with four bedrooms. Rents for the apartments are targeted to households earning 30–55 percent of area median income (AMI).

A services coordinator assists residents with wellness, and financial partner Wells Fargo provides money management and fraud prevention counseling.

Meanwhile, the for-sale homes include 128 townhouses and 70 detached homes on small lots consistent with the surrounding neighborhood. In accordance with the city’s inclusionary zoning requirements, 14 of these homes are reserved for moderate-income buyers earning between 60 and 120 percent of AMI under a deed restriction that is effective for 55 years.

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The city of Dublin owned the land on which Arroyo Vista was built. Working with HUD and KB Homes, it sold a portion of that land to the private developer to increase the number of assisted rental units. Infrastructure development costs were shared by Eden Housing and KB Homes. The total project budget was $135 million.

To meet that figure, the city invested $7.6 million from its housing fund, Eden Housing secured $24 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and KB Homes paid $12 million for the land belonging to the city — $11 million of which was invested into replacing the original affordable rental units. Tax-exempt bonds and loans from Wells Fargo and the California Community Reinvestment Corporation helped round out the financing.

The partners involved Arroyo Vista residents in the planning process. During construction (July 2011 to December 2012), residents were relocated, given vouchers to secure housing and given first priority for apartments in the new development upon completion. The complex includes a community room that hosts after-school programs as well as a child care center.

The dwellings are accessible to Bay Area Rapid Transit as well as to pedestrian and bicycle trails. Sustainability aspects include solar water heaters and solar photovoltaic for energy production, along with green building materials. In 2014, this project was given the Jack Kemp Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing by the Urban Land Institute.

For more information on innovative solutions from America’s small cities and towns, read NLC’s report Snapshot of Small City SuccessLead Photo: City of Dublin and the League of California Cities.

About the author: Jim Brooks is NLC’s Director for City Solutions. He specializes in local practice areas related to housing, neighborhoods, infrastructure, and community development and engagement. Follow Jim on Twitter @JamesABrooks.