City cuts ribbon on housing projects


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera Mayor Santos Garcia cuts the ceremonial ribbon to officially open Esperanza Village, a housing development that features 48 units in downtown Madera.

 

A project that was four years in the making came to fruition this week when the City of Madera officially cut the ribbon to open the Esperanza Village affordable housing development in downtown Madera on the corner of C and 5th Streets.


Many dignitaries were on hand to cut the ribbon Tuesday afternoon, including current and former members of the Madera City Council.


“The Esperanza Village Housing development is an excellent example of how the city’s non-profit, developers and state agencies and partners can work together to improve our community,” Madera Mayor Santos Garcia said. “Madera is in dire need of affordable housing. This project will provide 48 units downtown where we can use existing infrastructure and not contribute to sprawl. We will change our city skyline and beautify our city by installing five miles of sidewalk and solar street lights. We want to beautify the core of Madera and this is going a long way to make it happen.”


The Esperanza Village began in 2019 when the City of Madera obtained an $11.3 million grant for the project from the California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program. Construction for the project concluded in the fourth quarter of 2021, and all units are now fully occupied.


“The State of California’s Affordable Housing Sustainable Community Program provided about half the money for this project,” said Michael Sigala of Sigala, Inc., a consulting firm to cities to put projects like this together and to organize people.


Esperanza Village consists of two buildings containing 48 units of affordable housing. One of the structures features larger two and three-bedroom units, while the other includes one-bedroom and studio units — several of the one-bedroom and studio units house residents from the Madera County Behaviorial Health program.


“We put this together for families,” Madera County Supervisor Robert Poythress said. “It’s a great thing. MORES (Madera Opportunity for Resident Enrichment Services) is a co-developer of the project. We’ve had a close working relationship with them. A non profit like MORES can do that the housing authority can’t do. It’s a great relationship that works together. We were able to get these buildings built.”


The project sites were formally underutilized parking lots granted to the project from the city’s former Redevelopment Agency. Approximately $3.8 million of the total award will go directly to the City of Madera for transit, pedestrian, and bike improvements throughout downtown, including 27,000 linear feet of new sidewalks and an adult bike share program to be implemented by the Madera Police Department.


“Both of the parcels were parking lots,” Sigala said. “One belonged to the RDA and the other to the city. They got together to do a project, collectively. They both put in money and staff into it.”


The project predates members of the current city council and it was actually started by the previous city council, beginning with Will Oliver.


“This project is finishing with the existing council and predates my time with the City,” Madera City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez said. “It started several years ago with the former council members. They laid the seeds to see this project across the finish line.”


“We started talking about doing more affordable housing in Madera about four years ago,” Sigala said. “Former city councilman Will Oliver and former executive director of the housing authority Linda Shaw started this to get people together. It moved on from there. We started having monthly meetings. We had a number of people come in and talk about housing in Madera and the need to place a lot of people. Those talks eventually led to a project. The state has a lot of resources, why not talk about a project instead of talking about housing? In a very quick matter of time, we created a partnership to do something immediately in Madera. It was a great effort and partnership. Great partnerships are defined by partners who give a little and receive a lot. None of this could happen if all the partners didn’t chip in unselfishly.”


The two new structures highlight the city’s focus to create more affordable housing.


“It fits a wide continuum of people that need quality affordable housing in Madera,” Sigala said. “This is a transformational project according to the State of California. I happen to agree. What you saw in how this came about quickly means the City of Madera has the resources and partners to do something like this every year. It’s a special place. I always felt like home here. I think Madera has what it takes to make something like this happen more.”


“This is a win for us and the City of Madera,” said Denise Carter with The Pacific Companies. “I am appreciative for that relationship. We’ve done over 200 affordable housing projects. We’re so grateful to participate and have the partners we have. The staff are the unsung heroes of this project. This is a labor of love for us. Every one turns out so beautiful. I’m extremely grateful what everyone has done to make this a reality.:


In addition to receiving proclamations from the Mayor’s office, Madera County, Senator Anna Caballero, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and Congressman Jim Costa, other people were honored, including Housing Authority’s Linda Shaw, who passed away in December.


“Linda Shaw was with the Housing Authority when this project was started and instrumental in getting it going,” said Madera Chamber of Commerce CEO Debi Bray. “We lost Linda in December. Over her long years, Linda opened many doors for people in need of housing.”


Bray presented Shaw’s grandson, Jacid Dupont, with golden key plaques for him and his father.


In addition, Pacific Companies dedicated the community rooms in the two buildings to Herman Perez and Max Rodriguez.


“This is a win for us and the City of Madera,” Carter said. “I am appreciative for that relationship. We’ve done over 200 affordable housing projects. We’re so grateful to participate and have the partners we have.”