A New Kind of Infill for the City of Folsom
Green Means Go helps fund affordable home project for 10 new families in Folsom’s Green Zone
February 27, 2022: Ten families will soon be buying new homes in the heart of the City of Folsom thanks to the work of city planners and a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento (Habitat). At 300 Persifer Street a residential infill project will turn one lot into five, each with a home and an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). The project recently received a $374,000 award in Green Means Go funding that will support the 100 percent affordable housing project by offsetting infrastructure upgrades.
Located near the Historic Folsom District and a half mile from light rail, the lot is an ideal infill housing opportunity. Although the parcel was once used by the city for offices, officials had a different vision for it that included residential buildings to fit the spirit of the neighborhood while also providing homes for families.
“It is our first build in the City of Folsom, and we’re getting to do something a little different,” shared Leah Miller, Habitat’s chief executive officer. The ability to build two homes on a single lot for ownership is due to a piece of California legislation passed in 2019 that allows nonprofits to build and sell affordable ADUs so long as buyers meet certain criteria.
Unlike most affordable housing projects, Habitat provides a path to homeownership for low-income families. Homes are sold at the appraised price, and affordable mortgages are provided through the organization. This allows families to own their home and build their wealth. At 300 Persifer, 10 families will have an opportunity to begin their homeownership journeys, and Habitat will help revitalize a part of the neighborhood.
“It’s a unique approach,” says Stephanie Traylor Henry, senior planner with the City of Folsom who has worked closely with Habitat to secure funding for the project and navigate some project roadblocks. “It’s addressing missing middle housing because you are getting more housing on the sites. We are struggling to make those types of projects happen,” said Henry. She added that funding the project has been a challenge, because it doesn’t fit the typical model, but they are moving ahead.
When residents hear the words “affordable housing,” it is typically viewed as a negative, but Miller says Habitat’s projects aim to challenge that perception. “Oftentimes there is a connotation that it is not quality because it’s affordable, or there are negative views of who live in affordable housing. The people who purchase these homes are vested into the community.” That investment will be through homeownership, and 500 hours of sweat equity which new Habitat homeowners are required to spend in the construction of their home.
According to Anne Gambino, accounts manager for Habitat, neighbors themselves can participate as volunteers, too. “They have an opportunity to meet the new homeowners, and get to know the neighborhood better,” said Gambino. She added that in other neighborhoods, existing residents are inspired to spruce up their places once the new homes are built.
There are many opportunities throughout the Sacramento region for more infill projects like 300 Persifer, yet many challenges as well, especially around funding for the infrastructure that is needed to stand up infill projects like this. In response, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments recently awarded $3.2 million in the first wave of funding from the Green Means Go program to help Sacramento-region cities and counties bridge the funding gap to accelerate infill projects like this one.
“The funding we’re receiving through SACOG is critical to bringing this project to fruition,” added Miller. There is still a gap in funding, but she is excited to use Green Means Go funding for the first time and to create housing opportunities like this for the region.