November 7, 2016
WALNUT CREEK — That the Riviera Family Apartments project is being built on two separate, odd-shaped parcels along a narrow street between Interstate 680 and North Main Street is but one of many challenges faced by its myriad supporters over the past few years. But these challenges — including mustering the political and public will for “affordable housing,” finding construction crews when housing construction is on the rebound, lining up more than a dozen funding sources — were well worth it for those who spoke publicly Friday morning at the formal groundbreaking for the $37 million project for 58 affordable apartments.
“It’s not easy to build affordable housing right now, and we need a lot more affordable housing in Contra Costa,” said Alicia Klein, senior project manager at Berkeley-based developer Resources for Community Eli Harold Youth Jersey Development, which is coordinating the effort. Added Dan Sawislak, RCD’s executive director, “We need to have a groundbreaking like this every month.”
The apartments, 30 on one of the parcels and 28 on the other, are expected to be finished sometime in 2018. They will range from studios to three-bedroom units.
The folks at Friday’s groundbreaking were excited for several reasons. Klein said these units not only fulfill a “legal and moral obligation” to provide affordable units in a fairly unaffordable area, but she and others stressed that they are close to BART and to good schools. That should better enable wage earners to travel to jobs, Ben Metcalf said, but their kids to go to good schools and Eli Harold Kids Jersey get a head start on a good future “Projects like this one are helping poor and working-class families live the American Dream,” said Metcalf, director of the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
Proponents like Metcalf and Klein say this two-building project is also both a green project in and of itself, and benefiting from other environmental efforts. It received almost $5 million in funding from Elvis Dumervil Jersey the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities’ Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
The fund is replenished as part of a statewide “cap-and-trade” program mandated by Assembly Bill 32 in 2006. Maximum emission standards are set for various industries; entities who figure to produce relatively low pollution can auction off credits to other entities who figure to pollute more. Those auction proceeds go to that Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and projects like Riviera can apply for some of that money, and show they are themselves environmentally friendly. This is the first such “cap-and-trade” building project in Contra Costa.
The city of Walnut Creek contributed $6 million to the project; the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development awarded $2 million, and the state Department of Housing and Community Development contributed $2.8 million.