UPDATED - City of Elk Grove City Council District 4 meeting covers affordable, permanent supportive housing

Elk Grove City Council member Stephanie Nguyen (left) and Sarah Bontrager address District 4 constituents on
affordable housing during the community meeting. | 
In a what was a rare event, Elk Grove City Council member Stephanie Nguyen held a community meeting at city hall on Sunday, December 8.

The meeting which was scheduled last week covered an item which has become a hot topic with Nguyen's District 4 constituents, affordable housing. Assisting and conducting the majority of the session was the city's housing and community service manager, Sarah Bontrager.  

In her introductory remarks, Nguyen noted the unusual meeting time and said scheduling difficulties necessitated it be conducted on a Sunday so that it could be done before the end of the year. She also said more meetings will be scheduled next year at more typical times.

Addressing the need for the meeting, Nguyen said she wanted to discuss and address rumors circulating that a homeless shelter was to be located in the confines of at a new affordable housing development called the Garden at Quail Run on Bruceville Road south of Elk Grove Boulevard. Those rumors were promulgated by inaccurate comments on social media sites and one media outlet in particular.

"I think the [Sacramento] Business Journal had an article, and some of that stuff reported in there was inaccurate," Nguyen said.

After being introduced by Nguyen, Bontrager took over the presentation. During her presentation, Bontrager covered a wide variety of topics regarding affordable housing, who qualifies as recipients, state and federal laws, financial incentives available for developers, and permanent supportive housing.

Bontrager addressed some of the common misconceptions about affordable housing. Notably, residents at affordable units are not so-called Section 8 housing vouchers, now called the housing choice voucher program, which is a different program, and with the exception of seniors facilities, most residents are employed.

Addressing one of the persistent social media rumors, Bontrager said that the additional site of the Garden at Quail Ranch would not be the site of a homeless shelter. The developers of the site, the Pacific Companies, are considering the development of permanent supportive housing.

Unlike affordable housing units, permanent supportive housing is intended to facilitate the transition of homeless individuals with challenges to secure a stable living environment. Residents of such facilities have a variety of social services available on-site to ensure a successful transition.

"In general, permanent supportive housing units are a mix of units servicing people who are exiting homelessness, and general affordable housing, family housing," Bontrager said.

When asked about the Pacific Companies plans by an audience member, Bontrager said city staff is not aware of their intentions. The site, which is five-acres, is zoned to accommodate 30 units per acre, so conceivably it could have about 160 units.

Bontrager was also asked what control does the city council have over permanent supportive housing given new state rules. She replied the city only has jurisdiction if a developer asked for taxpayers money, which typically happens, that changes the calculus.

"That the council has full authority over," she said. "So the council could choose not to fund a project like that."  

When asked about the distribution of land zoned for future high-density housing, Bontrager said there is 80-acres in District 4, 60 of which is in the undeveloped Southeast Policy area, also known as SEPA. Additionally, Bontrager said based on recent legislation signed into law, the city cannot rezone that property.

Addressing the distribution of high-density housing in District 4, Nguyen noted "District 4 has more than other districts [in Elk Grove], if we are comparing it to other cities, we don't have as much." 

Nguyen went on to say that she has been lobbying her four city council colleagues to ensure affordable housing units are distributed throughout the community. 

"I'm going to need support from all of you, but the other district [city council] members too," Nguyen said. "So I am working with my colleagues and asking them to be fair, that this needs to be all across the city." 


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