20 new sweat-equity homes get green light from Williams Planning Commission

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Further development is coming to the Valley Ranch Eastside subdivision in Williams, as more than 20 new homes will be constructed at Silverleaf Way and portions of Larch Drive and White Oak Drive.

The city’s planning commission was tasked last week with determining whether the proposed design for the project met the city’s neighborhood’s conservation standards. Ultimately, they unanimously approved the design review application submitted by Sacramento Neighborhood Housing Services.

Their project is part of a self-help or sweat equity program, in which qualifying homeowners provide 65 percent of the construction labor in lieu of a down payment.

“In the county, this is our first project to come to fruition. We have about 100 people on our interest list for those homes in the county,” Donald Terry, an attorney for Sacramento Neighborhood Housing Services said.

The homes will be classified a low- and very-low-income housing, and the developer anticipates the entire 20 houses will be completed by early 2018.

In response to a question from Williams Mayor John Troughton, who was speaking as a member of the public, Terry said that the homes are not deed restricted – meaning that they could be sold soon after completion.

“In theory, they could (sell) quickly if they wanted to. But, what I will point out is that average homeowner for a normal mortgage-bought home is about seven years, nationally. For the around 50,000 homes bought through this program, it’s about fourteen years.” Terry said. “The vast majority of the people that go through this program, they don’t sell their house anytime soon.”

Commissioner Don Parsons asked what the price point of the houses would be, and Terry said that it would depend on what they appraise for.

“We are expecting appraisals to be from just under $200,000 to just over $200,000,” Terry said. “That’s what we had estimated when we purchased the land and did our market analysis. But, again, there’s a lot of subsidy that we’ve already attained for the project… the real finance cost will range from $150,000 to $160,000, depending on the units.”

To qualify for the program, applicants must be “gainfully employed,” have good credit, and be employed for a certain period of time.

“It’s just like what would be expected of anyone else,” Terry said.

Unlike residents of rental properties classified as low-income, the residents at this development are homeowners, Terry said, which means that they would be paying property taxes.

“As soon as the lots are sold to the applicants and they begin construction, they are paying taxes. They will be assessed every year and paying property taxes,” Terry said. “They own it as soon as they start building it.”

Commissioner Sajit Singh opened the comments from the commission by saying he was “really impressed” by the design of the homes.

“The way the homes look, the quality of the materials and the design and variety – considering the cookie-cutter setup that they have already out there, I think it’s a good addition,” Singh said.

The houses will consist of a mix of three, four and five room houses, measuring 1286, 1356, and 1449 square feet, respectively.

The size of the houses relative to the number of rooms was one few issues raised by the commission.

“As far as just size, this is a five-bedroom home, and just over 1400 square feet – that’s pretty small for a five-bedroom,” Commissioner Don Parsons said.

Terry replied that the loans were provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, and square footage was had to meet certain USDA criteria.

“The USDA requires ‘modest’ homes,” Terry said. “This falls within their definition of modest – it’s actually probably one of the bigger-sized homes you’ll see with this project.” <

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net