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City agrees to sell vacant lots on Sayonara Drive for $1 each. Here’s why

File photo, vacant lots on Sayonara Drive. // CH Sentinel

By Mike Hazlip—
The Citrus Heights City Council last month voted unanimously to approve an agreement with Habitat for Humanity to develop low-income housing on Sayonara Drive, with part of that agreement including the sale of 12 vacant lots for $1 each.

The city entered into a memorandum of understanding with Habitat for Humanity in a 5-0 vote during a March 23 council meeting. The project aims to build 26 homes along Sayonara Drive on lots currently owned by the city. The homes are intended for low-income families who qualify for the organization’s housing program.

The project is projected to cost a total of $7.7 million, with the city contributing about $2.3 million of that through fee waivers and funds. Funding will come from permanent local housing allocations, along with pro-housing incentive funds, and an affordable housing impact fee.

According to the memorandum, the city will sell 12 vacant parcels along Sayonara Drive to Habitat for Humanity for $1 each. Habitat for Humanity will manage the construction of the new single-family units over a three-year timeframe and provide long-term oversight of the properties, the document says.

Low-income families who qualify for the program will help build their new home with 500 hours of service in what the organization calls “sweat equity.” The families enrolled with the program are eligible for a 30-year mortgage with zero interest.

Habitat for Humanity Director of Construction Michael Gordon told the council that the organization works to ensure families in the program are responsible home owners.

“We do our best to police that,” Gordon said. “It’s very important that we stick behind our program.”

The Sayonara Drive project will be the first time the organization will build two-bedroom, one-bath homes, according to Gordon. The homes will be just under 1,000-square-feet and each home will have a garage.

The move comes as the city seeks to fulfill its obligation to replace the occupied units demolished during a 2008 through 2010 effort to reduce blight and crime in the area. The city purchased the blighted buildings and re-located residents before demolishing them in 2010.

The city received a 23-unit credit for the low-income Sunrise Pointe Apartments currently under construction on Sunrise Boulevard, but the city still needs to build a total of 12 units to fulfill its obligation to replace units that were demolished, according to a staff report.

The report also shows the area’s annual median family income in 2022 was $102,200, making for a “very low” income limit of $50,650 for a four-member household, or a limit of $81,050 for the same size household to qualify as “low income,” based on limits established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The next step for the city will be to review home designs and materials presented by Habitat. The organization plans to submit architectural and site plans “once all funding sources have been secured,” a staff report says.

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