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Winters Express
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Movin’ On In

First residents move in to Orchard Village

Express editor
“Movin’ On Up” wasn’t just a theme song from the classic TV show, “The Jeffersons” — for many Winters families, it could serve as the soundtrack as they move into brand new apartments at Orchard Village. According to the city’s housing programs manager, Dan Maguire, the majority of the families moving into the complex are already in Winters, many living in cramped, overcrowded accommodations with relatives and apartments that are too small, or conversely, houses that are too big and a strain on their budgets because that’s all they can find to rent.
The Delgado family is a perfect example of local people in need of move-up housing. Signing their papers on Friday, AnaRosa Delgado says their current two bedroom apartment was too small for their three children. They’ll be moving into a four bedroom apartment at Orchard Village, and Ana Rosa says although they’ll be paying a little more for rent, it’s worth it to her to have more space and also her own laundry hookups, which each apartment features in addition to a public laundry room.
“It’s more, but it’s a good value,” says AnaRosa. “We’re excited. It’s a bigger space for us.”
Her husband, Jose, who works at Four Winds Growers, says he shares in the excitement, and feels that their new home will be safer for their children. He also likes that everything they need is “close by.”
Maguire says the Delgados are typical of the residents of the new complex, located at 955 Railroad Avenue. He points out that having free internet access and their own laundry hookups, for example, are some of the features of Orchard Village that “help a family get a leg up on life.” Overall, he says, having high-quality, adequate, affordable housing benefits the community as a whole.
“Having decent housing is a goal of this community and it always has been. It’s in our General Plan, and it’s the direction the city council guided us in. It’s what we do.”
Giving a personal tour of the facilities last week, Maguire says all in all, “it’s a great project.”
Orchard Village has 73 apartments (plus one for the manager, Laura Vasquez), ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. All the ground floor units are handicapped accessible. There is a spacious community room with restrooms for public gatherings, a computer lab with computers and computer stations, a laundry room, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and outdoor poolside showers, a children’s playground, and solar panels on the building roofs that provide enough power for the common areas, and the entire complex was built with “green” standards in mind.
Each unit has full kitchens with appliances and granite countertops, and all are prewired for internet access. Window coverings are also already in place. The downstairs apartments feature spacious patios and storage closets. The units are not only fresh and new, they are also affordable. Maguire says a variety of income levels are eligible at Orchard Village. Nineteen units are reserved for households earning 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), defined as “extremely low-income households.” Nineteen are reserved for households earning 50 percent of AMI (very low-income households); and 35 units are restricted to households defined as low-income (55-60 percent of AMI).
“From an affordable housing standpoint, it fulfills many of our legal obligations that have plagued the city is the past,” says City Manager John Donlevy. “To the regulatory agencies, it shows that we are meeting our obligations and will allow us to proceed with market rate housing when the economy improves. No one can say that we have not met our obligations.”
“Orchard Village encompasses the most important development issues we have talked about for Winters in the past 10 years,” says City Manager John Donlevy. “From a building standpoint, it is very ‘green.’ with solar and smart building practices. It incorporates universal design concepts, which make the units livable for residents from seniors and the handicapped to families and singles.”
Donlevy says the larger units a major plus.
“The three and four bedroom units allow larger families to have a higher quality of living, versus cramming a six person family into a two or three bedroom apartment. Enough cannot be said about the quality of life issues.”
He adds that the project was difficult, but city staff “worked to get this level of a
project to become a reality.” In particular, he notes the efforts of Magure, Community Development Director Nelia Dyer, Management Analyst Dawn Van Dyke, Financial Director Shelly Gunby and Director of Administrative Services Nanci Mills as having played key roles in the project’s progress.
“This was a very complex project to get built,” says Donlevy. “From the planning to the overall financing, the behind the scenes stuff was massive. Central Valley Coalition for Affordable Housing has been an outstanding partner in bringing a high quality affordable project.
“Legal Services of Northern California was very understanding in working with us to lower the unit count from 88 to 74 to maximize the family units was huge. In my opinion, our community would never have let 88 units be built and the project would have died.”
Besides the effort of several agencies and city staff, it also took plenty of funding to make the project happen. According to Maguire, the total cost for Orchard Village was $20 million. He says the majority of the funding for the project came from federal 9 percent low income tax credits (equity investors). The city’s Redevelopment Agency contributed $1.3 million to the project in the form of a grant.
Maguire says Orchard Village is expected to be fully occupied by the end of July. The property is owned by Central Valley Coalition for Affordable Housing, a non-profit affordable housing organization based in Merced. They have contracted with Cambridge Real Estate Services for property management services. Future plans for the complex include an adjacent park, which Donlevy says “will be a tremendous asset to that entire part of the city.” The park will feature picnic areas, a community garden, a playground and walking paths.
According to Donlevy, this is the fourth affordable housing project completed in Winters since 2005, and he is proud of all of them.
“Winters has some of the highest quality affordable housing in the region and we are accomplishing many of our General Plan goals.”
For more information about Orchard Village, call manager Laura Vasquez, 795-1100, or send an email to