A VILLAGE IS REBUILT
After burning down in the Camp Fire, the Community Housing Improvement Program’s Paradise Community Village will soon see new tenants after completing construction.
Residents are expected to begin moving in next week to the 36-unit complex which has one, two, and three bedroom apartments and townhomes. As affordable housing, tenants can expect to pay between $308 to $706 for a one bedroom, $370 to $848 for a two bedroom and between $422 to $974 for a three bedroom. CHIP also accepts Section 8 vouchers.
Property Manager Ashley Meeker said Wednesday that telling residents they are able to come home after being displaced from the Camp Fire has been a humbling experience.
“It’s really cool to be able to tell these people, ‘Come on up on Monday,’” Meeker said. “I’ve talked to a few people so far and they were crying or laughing and it’s just great. It’s like sometimes you get the sadness when you have to tell people you don’t have anything for them. With this, I’ve been able to give good news.”
CHIP President and CEO Seana O’Shaughnessy said adding to the excitement of telling people they’ve been accepted is knowing all units are likely to be filled entirely by former Paradise residents.
“We prioritize all former residents (of Paradise Community Village). They’re the first group that went through and they’ll be the first to move back,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Those were our first priorities and then Camp Fire survivors who were in temporary housing as defined by (Federal Emergency Management Agency), then Camp Fire survivors just generally and after that, the general public.”
O’Shaughnessy said of roughly 250 applications for the complex, more than 150 came from survivors of the Camp Fire.
“They obviously want to return to Paradise,” O’Shaughnessy said. “To be able to be in a space that is new and affordable and conveniently located — I’m really proud of this accomplishment.”
The original Paradise Community Village was completed in 2013 before being completely destroyed five years later in the Camp Fire. Primarily financed with low income housing tax credits, O’Shaughnessy said for tax credits, there’s a 15-year compliance period that if you go out of compliance, the tax credits from the federal government have to be paid back. In the case
of a disaster like the Camp Fire, the government gives two years to rebuild or the tax credits will have to be paid back.
“We’ve worked really, really hard to get an extension of the restoration period because it’s up to $2 million. We wouldn’t have been able to rebuild and pay back all of that,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Because of COVID, they finally gave us a year extension and we have until the end of this year to completely rebuild.”
With private donations and insurance, the Paradise Community Village is now well on its way despite challenges.
“The cost of everything went up. So with insurance, FEMA private donations, we had enough money to rebuild but we didn’t have enough money to rebuild and pay back the rest,” O’Shaughnessy said. “But we knew that this housing was important, we were committed. And fortunately, that came through and we were well on our way to rebuilding when we got that.”
Also at the new complex is a community room where CHIP will hold organized events, a playground, community washers and dryers and a computer room for residents to get access to the internet.
The first new (and returning) residents of the Paradise Community Village will begin the process of moving in next week.
For more information on CHIP housing and the Paradise Community Village visit https://chiphousing. org/rentals/paradise/paradise-community-village/.