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Kissing cousin of Paseo Villas complex
Workers inspect bath tubs for Belagio Apartments before they are installed. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Say the words “affordable housing” and it often conjures up images of drab public subsidized housing or barebones unkempt homes.

Belagio Apartments is about to shatter that mold.

The 153-unit complex rising up on Atherton Drive between Woodward Avenue and VanRyn Avenue is being built as an affordable housing complex aimed at households typically dubbed “the working poor”. Typically they make too much to take advantage of poverty fighting programs but not enough to be able to afford to live within the dame community they are working. In this case, it is Manteca.

The workforce housing complex was designed as an exterior architectural mirror image of Manteca’s most upscale apartment complex - Paseo Villas - just down the road on Atherton Drive where rents start at $995 a month for a one-bedroom unit.

Qualified renters will pay based on their household income and family size. Unlike some affordable housing efforts involving rental property, the subsidy is upfront to the developer in the form of a low-cost $12 million Manteca Redevelopment Agency loan and $17 million in tax-exempt financing banks are required to provide to help with the nation’s; affordable housing needs.

Councilman Steve DeBrum praised the project noting that it addresses the housing needs of a group that is often forgotten - and squeezed the most - in Manteca.

“They are hard working people who work in Manteca but don’t have the income to afford to live in Manteca,” DeBrum noted.

For years Manteca has discussed how to provide housing to hundreds - if not thousands - of people who work at jobs in Manteca but can’t afford to live within the city. This project addresses that concern.

DeBrum praised the long-term management plan that will assure the property will be kept up and look just like the surrounding Middle Class neighborhoods whether it is at-market apartments or the Tesoro homes to the south.

Councilman Vince Hernandez noted the project was designed with the idea that those of lesser means shouldn’t be segregated or forced to live with less when it comes to visual ambiance.

“They nearby residents won’t be able to tell there it is an affordable housing complex (based on) how is designed and being managed,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said elected leaders from other cities are often stunned to find out Manteca has been able to pursue a large affordable housing project in the middle of the Great Recession.

Hernandez said the city was able to take advantage of lower construction costs as well as start addressing affordable housing needs for Manteca workers before the economy heats up again due to what he called “long-range visionary planning” by elected leaders and developers.

The rental complex also breaks the city out of the mold of concentrating on owner-occupied affordable housing opportunities for low-income families in Manteca with the 20 percent state mandate set aside for housing development. Manteca has helped develop two subsidized apartment complexes for low-income seniors as well as the purchase and refurbishing of a previously troubled apartment complex at Wawona and Union for low-income families.

The city has helped more than 100 low-income families over the past 20 years buy homes as part of the RDA endeavors.

Hernandez said he likes the idea of well-kept apartments as the housing stock always stays affordable.

Most home deals the city is involved with have a limited time - ranging from 15 to 30 years - that any subsequent buyer also has to be within low-income limits. That is to prevent buyers helped by the city to flip the home for a profit beyond the constraints of affordable housing income guidelines.

The financing plan for the 7.86-acre Belagio project also included deferral of part of the development fees, and 4 percent low income housing credits. The $12.5 million RDA loan will be payable with residual cash receipts after the developer pays whatever development fees are deferred. The complex must be used for affordable housing for a minimum of 55 years.

Belagio Apartments will consist of a tot lot, BBQ area, and community room with kitchen, fitness room, computer room, and laundry facilities. Each unit would have blinds, carpeting, patios, and appliances.

An at-market complex consisting of 150 units is expected to eventually be built to the west of Belagio Apartments.