VOTE NOW: Final Quarter Friday Night Favorite

Project Bringing Affordable Housing, Hope to South Stockton

STOCKTON -- The sticks and movement of dirt at Twelfth and Belleview streets show something that's long been missing in South Stockton -- progress.

"The fate of South Stockton is the fate of the city. I think you have to strengthen the weakest links in anything and for us as a city," city councilmember Jesus Andrade said.

Andrade knows south Stockton and Sierra Vista well. He grew up in the area of nearly 400 homes.

"We’re the closet neighborhood to Downtown Stockton. So when you talk about the rebirth of downtown, you’re really talking about the rebirth of South Stockton," he said.

This talk of rebirth is evident in the building of the new Amazon facility and renovation of spots where drugs once ran rampant, but this construction might be the most important.

"Part of the American dream is stable housing, finding footing in this country and really doing something," Andrade said.

Phase 1 of the Sierra Vista redevelopment is underway, a $34 million project that will bring 115 brand new affordable housing units to an area that has long needed a facelift.

"There's no more Band-Aid. This is a teardown, a re-do," San Joaquin County Housing Authority Executive Director Peter Ragsdale said. "To say that other communities get affordable housing dollars. Stockton deserves them. South Stockton deserves them."

Fred Sheil, who has fought for decades to update the 70-year-old buildings in the county's oldest public housing area, says this new project, which could bring 500 public housing units and 80 homes for purchase, has brought a calmness to the area.

"It feels good now to all be working together. This is a low income, minority neighborhood. That doesn’t mean you have to have crime. That doesn’t mean you have to have blight. They don’t go together. That’s the assumption that poor and ugly and crime all go together. No, no. I completely reject that," Sheil said.

It's a part of town that has felt rejected in the past.

"We are public housing, we are low-income housing and a lot of people talk about us on the south side that we are ran down, we’re raggly," Sierra Vista Council President Georgia Brownlee said. "But we all are still good people and we do have somewhere to live. We are not homeless."

Far from homeless, and soon the housing will be another sign of progress.

Meanwhile, the Housing Authority is already working on phase 2. They plan to present that next week to see if they can get started on that when these hopefully are finished by the beginning of next year.