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Ranchos board agrees to sell land for low-cost homes

by Andy Bourelle

An affordable housing development to be built in the Gardnerville Ranchos – unlike any previously proposed in Douglas County – has cleared its first hurdle.

The Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District Board of Trustees agreed at its monthly meeting Wednesday night to sell a 4.47-acre parcel of land, located on Wheeler Way between the two portions of Kimmerling Road, to Citizens for Affordable Homes Inc. The company’s next step will be to approach the Douglas County Planning Commission.

After entertaining two offers from affordable housing companies, the GRGID board decided to use Affordable Homes Inc, although it was offering to pay $120,000 less than the Affordable Housing Group Inc., which offered $400,000.

Bob Lomas, president of Affordable Housing Group, told the board the company wanted to build a 67-unit apartment complex. However, Citizens for Affordable Homes indicated it wanted to build 21 single-family houses.

“That 67 units looks great on paper, but I do not want to see 67 units. I would rather see homes.” said Bev Page, GRGID board member. “The amount doesn’t necessarily matter. I want to see a healthy, decent project.”

Citizens for Affordable Homes Inc. operates a mutual, self-help housing process, where participants, receiving grants to pay for the project, work together to build a neighborhood.

Citizens for Affordable Homes Executive Director Arthur Seavey said the project not only gives the participants, who must qualify as having either low or very low incomes, a new home, but it also helps them build social skills and learn to work as a team.

“The house is just kind of a bonus at the end,” he said.

When the project is completed, Seavey said, the residents already have a sense of camaraderie with their neighbors and pride in their neighborhood.

Citizens for Affordable Homes provides for the house design, permit process, construction estimates, home ownership counseling, credit counseling and more. The participants, along with a construction supervisor, do the work.

“This is no give away. This is no freebie,” Seavey said. “These people really work for their houses.”

The men and women help build their own houses and the houses of their neighbors, Seavey said, and the participants, who are proud of the accomplishment, take care of the end result.

“(The project) helps them develop such a tremendous pride in what they’ve done, and they deserve that,” Seavey said.

Citizens for Affordable Homes has done work in Dayton, and board member Dewey Jay told the other members that the final product was impressive.

“(District Manager Bob Spellberg) and I saw the homes out in Dayton. It was a beautiful neighborhood,” Jay said. “Some of the houses weren’t quite finished, but I was impressed.”

Normally required to sell property at its assessed value, GRGID had attempted to sell the parcel at its assessed value for about one year. The district was unable to sell it at that price; therefore, GRGID attorney Mike Rowe said the board members were permitted to accept Citizens for Affordable Homes’ $280,000 offer.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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