Children run here and there, playing tag, climbing all over the sparkling new playground equipment at the heart of the grounds. Parents haul home groceries after work to cook dinner — though, once the gardens fill out, those grocery bags will be a bit lighter. New neighbors pass by, waving hello, getting acquainted with one another.
It appears that the New Harmony Mutual Housing Community, a brand-new affordable housing development at 3030 Cowell Blvd., already has become a bustling neighborhood in South Davis.
And the city’s newest community was on full display Wednesday when well over 100 people came for tours and to celebrate the grand opening of the first affordable housing complex funded by redevelopment dollars in Davis in more than five years.
“It’s just wonderful to stand here inside a place that’s already housing families who would be at risk of homelessness, or who may not otherwise be able to live in Davis near their work, near school or with their family,” said Davis Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, addressing the crowd that had gathered in the community center to celebrate the opening.
New Harmony was developed by the local branch of Mutual Housing California, which over the past few decades has built homes for more than 3,000 people in the region. More than half of that number are children.
With 69 one-, two- and three-bedroom units, New Harmony offers rents as low as $400 for families earning anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of the median income in the area.
Perhaps highlighting the need for low-income housing in Davis, every single apartment in the complex already has been rented.
About half the families who won the lottery to live in one of the units had moved in as of this week and all of the families are expected to be settled by the end of the month.
“Students, teachers, most people who are hard-working have a great deal of difficulty, and have always had a great deal of difficulty, finding housing in our city,” said state Sen. Lois Wolk, who also was in attendance Wednesday. “So it’s really worth celebrating that 69 more families will be part of this community.”
New Harmony tenants will enjoy an array of amenities in and around the 3.38-acre complex, including a community garden, a full playground, a half basketball court and a community center.
Local artwork is also featured throughout.
Each of the buildings within the community, which uses solar power drawn from panels mounted on the roofs, are LEED-certified, meaning they’ve been verified as “green” structures.
“This is a fitting testament to the legacy of redevelopment,” Dan Wolk added, citing the $8 million the project received from former redevelopment agency dollars. The city also received $1.7 million in federal HOME funds.
Other institutions to contribute included Bank of America, NeighborWorks America, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, Merritt Community Capital Corp., the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and the Home Depot Foundation.
Redevelopment agencies were forced to dissolve in February 2012 when the state stripped millions of dollars in tax increment from local governments throughout California.
Councilman Lucas Frerichs, who also spoke at the grand opening, said he believes that even without redevelopment the city of Davis can create local opportunities for affordable housing.
“If any community can actually make a go of additional affordable housing in the future, it’s Davis,” said Frerichs, who served on the Yolo Mutual Housing Association board of directors from 2000 to 2008.
The city of Davis has developed more than 1,700 units of affordable housing over the past 25 years.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash