Woodland Low-Income Housing Plan Advances

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WOODLAND --

City officials in Woodland say the biggest eyesore in town will soon be history when a new 80-unit low-income housing project is completed.

The old Yolo General Hospital and adjacent medical clinic have been vacant for two years since a family clinic relocated across the street. But it's been home to many vagrants and squatters who have trashed the inside of buildings and the grounds.

The city council recently gave the go-ahead for the project by Yolo Housing in conjunction with Mercy Housing and the New Hope Development Corporation to move forward.

Often low-income housing units get objections from neighbors in many communities. But in this case, the new complex catering to those transitioning from homelessness and the mentally ill is welcome.

Susan Sussdorf-Vigil, whose back fence borders the 4.5-acre property, says the activity by vagrants makes her feel unsafe.

"I would love to see something else there besides the building that's falling down," said Sussdorf-Vigil.

Mogavero Architects, which has extensive experience in designing low-income housing units, has already created renderings of the project that include a playground and a community center for tenants.

Some neighbors are concerned about the lack of a solid barrier that would separate the parking area of the new complex from the back fences of residents. Several felt that cars could crash into their yards. But they also say there should be time to voice their concerns and possibly make revisions in the final plans.

City officials are pleased because they will get rid of a safety problem and an eyesore and at the same time have low-income housing units near health, employment and counseling services, which already surround the site.

"We just have a shortage of housing that's available for folks in a variety of price ranges, so we're here trying to help make that a little bit better for everyone," said Lisa Baker, CEO of Yolo Housing.

Details of the financing of the project are still being worked out, but if things go as planned, the demolitions of the old hospital buildings could begin by fall.