Turlock

Turlock project will add 60 low-income apartments. The waiting list is long

Expansion to come for low-income housing complex in Turlock

Property supervisor Melody Davis talks about Avena Bella, a low-income housing complex located in Turlock on Wednesday August 28, 2019. The complex that has a small community center, play area and garden is considered a model for infill development.
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Property supervisor Melody Davis talks about Avena Bella, a low-income housing complex located in Turlock on Wednesday August 28, 2019. The complex that has a small community center, play area and garden is considered a model for infill development.

Another 60 apartments for low-income people will rise soon at the Avena Bella complex in southwest Turlock.

The City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to lend part of the funding for the $18 million expansion. The project, expected to open in fall 2020, comes amid a tight rental market in California.

The apartments will be next to the 80-unit first phase that EAH Housing opened in 2013 at 500 W. Linwood Avenue. It has amenities such as a swimming pool, a children’s play structure and a community center with space for tutoring, potlucks and other activities.

“What we provide here at EAH is more than just affordable housing,” said Melody Davis, a property supervisor for the nonprofit. “We provide opportunities for growth.”

About 600 people have expressed interest in living in the second and final phase, said Maryn Pitt, assistant to the city manager for economic development and housing.

No wonder: The rents at Avena Bella range from $350 to $911 a month, depending on household income and number of bedrooms.

Apartment rents throughout Turlock averaged $1,248 in July, up 17 percent from a year earlier, according to RentCafe’s survey of complexes with 50 or more units.

EAH started as the Ecumenical Association for Housing in 1968, in response to the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It now has more than 100 complexes housing more than 20,000 people in California and Hawaii. They include Archway Commons on Carver Road in Modesto, scheduled to double to 150 units in 2021.

Davis, who works out of EAH’s San Rafael office, provided The Modesto Bee with a Wednesday morning tour of Avena Bella. Resident manager Mikeila McNack was on hand.

The apartments are in eight Mediterranean-themed buildings of two or three stories. Avena Bella is Italian for “beautiful oats,” a feed crop on the area’s dairy farms.

Avena Bella has been cited as a model for infill development, as opposed to sprawling onto farmland. The complex is bounded by Highway 99 on one side and by Cunningham Elementary School and Fusion Charter School on others. Save Mart and other smaller stores are a quarter-mile away on Lander Avenue.

The council vote was to lend $2.2 million to the project from the city’s share of federal HOME funding. Another $4 million was allotted in 2010 from Turlock’s former redevelopment agency. EAH is using a conventional bank loan of $10.1 million and several smaller sources to make up the rest.

“These projects are huge for our community,” Councilman Andrew Nosrati said before the vote. “When we talk about the homeless issue, the next thing up is affordable housing. Approving projects like this changes the lives of people who live here.”

The expansion contractor, Huff Construction of Modesto, could break ground in October and finish the project in about a year.

John Holland covers breaking news and has been with The Modesto Bee since 2000. He has covered agriculture for the Bee and at newspapers in Sonora and Visalia. He was born and raised in San Francisco and has a journalism degree from UC Berkeley.
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