The long-awaited Mercy North Auburn affordable housing project is taking shape along First Street and ‘B’ Avenue at the Placer County Government Center. The 79-unit complex broke ground in August and is scheduled for an October 2021 completion. It will feature three 3-story apartment buildings and seven 2-story attached town-homes that will be available to people with a wide range of incomes, ranging from 30–60% the area median income. It will also include a multipurpose community building, parking, and common green spaces with outdoor play equipment.
According to Sam Kingore, project Architect at Mogavero Architects, the project is a pedestrian oriented community with nicely articulated building frontage along First Street with central common green spaces behind, forming a buffer along the parking area at the rear. A certain level of density is a key factor in achieving a cost-effective project and balanced feel of a tight-knit environment, and this project is also strategically placed near schools, shopping, transit and a host of other resources benefiting future residents. “Mercy Housing is focused on high quality construction” according to Sam, pointing out that their mission is to own and operate their facilities long term, so “investments in quality, livability, and durability pay dividends.” The Community building will host events and sponsor Mercy Housing programs designed to assist residents and strengthen community bonds.
Eco-friendly design practices are fundamental to Mercy Housing projects by Mogavero Architects. Drought tolerant landscaping and advanced stormwater management design features are prominent. Natural crossflow ventilation through generous exterior openings on the west facade to exterior egress balconies on the east reduce cooling demands and contribute to the energy efficiency of the project. Solar PV panels and solar hot water heating panels contribute renewable power will help the project toward the goal of net-zero electricity usage, a primary mandate of California’s push towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector.
The project will contribute greatly to the County’s regional affordable housing goals and obligations. Placer County contributed 3 acres of county-owned property to the project along with housing vouchers and funding from two state grants totaling more than $4.5 million. Placer County Housing Trust Funds are also being used to cover development and processing fees. With financial support from California’s ‘No Place Like Home Program’, the Placer County Adult System of Care will provide referrals and case management for residents of 20 of the new homes.
Although the project did face some entitlement obstacles along the way, and requires the rerouting of an irrigation canal, it did not face the usual strong opposition of neighboring residents encountered by most affordable housing projects, perhaps due to the unique location surrounded by mostly government and business functions. Politically it became expedient. The great news is that this project is happening now.
Broward Brothers Construction based in Woodland; CA is general contractor.