HUD announced Monday that Sacramento is one of five cities receiving a $30 million grant that will be used to upgrade a neighborhood surrounding the Twin Rivers Housing complex on North 12 Street.
The announcement by Lourdes Castro Ramirez, principal deputy assistant secretary of HUD, drew cheers from an assembled crowd of residents, elected officials and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment staffers.
SHRA spent two years on a plan to replace the World War II era housing units. An assessment team visited with residents and examined the site in what was a competitive process.
President Barack Obama created a program designed to help enhance the lifestyle of the poor who live in low-income housing.
The grant money will also be spent on services such as employment training, education programs for kids and safety and transportation projects.
The money will help replace 216 units of public housing as well as adding workforce housing and market-rate housing in an area dominated by homeless services and industrial buildings.
The need for affordable housing in Sacramento is acute.
"That's why were trying to grow this, not just from our public housing, but also to workforce housing for some of those people who will be moving back into our downtown area and working in the area, and this will be a place of choice for them to live," said La Shelle Dozier, executive director of SHRA.
Nearly 850 units of new housing will eventually be built in the neighborhood, creating a mix of low-income, workforce and market-rate units.
Mayor Kevin Johnson said Sacramento is on a roll with the huge grant, especially since the improvements will dovetail with the new downtown arena and the nearby rail yard innovation district.
Twin Rivers complex resident DeCoe Gilmore participated in many workshops to give input to the design of the plan. She was suprised that her input was taken seriously, from the design of showers to the number of electrical outlets residents need.
She is also happy that the project will build a public housing unit for everyone that is demolished.
"It's fine with me, knock 'em down and put in modern," Gilmore said.
The news was well received at an affordable housing summit sponsored by the Sacramento Housing Alliance. But with rents increasing and the average salary shrinking, experts at the summit say affordable housing is scarcer than ever.
"It is going to be a good step in the right direction, but it will be just a drop in the bucket, " said Darryl Rutherford, executive director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance.