Citrus Heights completes its first affordable housing project in two decades  

Sunrise Pointe in Citrus Heights. Courtesy photograph

By Molly Mellon

Citrus Heights’ first affordable housing development in 20 years now sits on what used to be a vacant Christmas tree lot. 

Sunrise Pointe Apartments was completed and fully leased by June of 2023, with an official grand opening at the start of this year. The development provides 46 units of permanent supportive housing to 144 residents, including 85 children, according to Jamboree Housing, which co-owns the complex. 

Residents are also provided with counseling, job training, health and wellness classes, and after-school youth programs.

“It’s really about how do we wrap-around the residents every single thing that they would need to not only survive, but thrive,” said Marissa Feliciano, a spokesperson from Jamboree Housing.

This development was a collaboration between Jamboree Housing, HOPE Cooperative, the City of Citrus Heights, and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, or SHRA. The stability of this permanent housing, and the community it brings, is something that residents like Mykishia Conner genuinely appreciate.

“I still lived, until last week, out of my suitcase,” Conner shared. “For the last three years, I didn’t know when I would have to move … So, I just unpacked and hung all my stuff and I’m finally decorating.”

Conner and her two boys, aged 12 and 15, spent the last nine months moving from tiny home to tiny home every 28 days. Now that they live at Sunrise Pointe, she has a room to herself for the first time in years.

“Now that my family’s housing is stable, now we can fix all of the other internal issues that came from being homeless for three years,” Conner said.

Conner’s family is among many who have benefited from this stability.

“Me and my husband, we slept in our van, and the kids slept at my mother-in-law’s house, sometimes in the van with us too,” resident Elizabeth Sandoval remembered. “It was sad and depressing. So, when we got in here, it changed our lives.”

Of course, every big change takes some getting used to, and having 85 children in one community makes that clear.

“The hardest thing with the kids was learning how to play with each other and having a space to play and get along,” Sandoval reflected. “Now they’re all friends.”

“As much as the adults are building a community, I feel like the kids are too,” Conner noted. “I’m “Ron’s mom” to everybody. No one remembers Mykishia but they all know my son.”

On top of building connections, this stability is giving residents the foundations for building their futures. 

“This apartment is a stepping stone,” Conner said. “I’m in the process of trying to figure out how I can go back to school so that eventually my apartment can be for the next homeless family to come off the street.”

For housing advocates, these residents and their stories reflect the huge accomplishment that projects like Sunrise Pointe Apartments can be. 

“Once you talk to the residents, you realize what a game changer it is,” Feliciano stressed. “It’s really amazing. Some of our staff have lived in affordable housing or they have been homeless…Everybody at Jamboree is really passionate about what they do.”

The collaborators on this development secured $3.58 million from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and $3 million in No Place Like Home, or NPLH, funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. This is the first project in the Sacramento region to receive NPLH funding.

“It took a couple of years and we went through COVID, so you can imagine the speed bumps we had,” said Nicole Piva, Citrus Heights Housing and Human Services Program Coordinator. “Being able to work through that and having such a successful project, it just feels great to be able to have that in our city.”

SHRA is also providing residents with Section 8 Project-based vouchers, which will allow them to pay rent that is, at most, 30% of their income. In practice, that means residents will not pay more than around $1,250 for rent each month, according to Jamboree Housing.

Sunrise Pointe Apartments is just one of Jamboree Housing’s more than 100 properties throughout the state. 

“It’s our vision that everybody has that opportunity to live somewhere safe, somewhere stable, somewhere where they can build that community,” Feliciano explained. 

While most of their developments are affordable housing, Sunrise Pointe Apartments is permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing developments provide housing for residents who are earning under 15-25% of the Area Median Income(AMI), which represents the typical income in their area. 

Feliciano recognizes that there is a stigma around affordable housing – and she wants to bust these stereotypes. For her, Sunrise Pointe Apartments is centered around families. 

“We’re not housing drug dealers and all,” she pointed out. “These are regular families that are trying to live and build a stable foundation and create lives for their children.”

While every unit at Sunrise Pointe Apartments is fully leased, Jamboree Housing has other projects lined up throughout the state. In West Sacramento, the second phase of West Gateway Place is underway. West Gateway Place is a family-oriented, mixed-income community in West Sacramento’s Bridge District. This second phase is proposed to bring in nearly 100 new units of housing that are directly connected to health and wellness programs, tutoring services, and an onsite program coordinator who helps residents access local services.

According to Feliciano, the second phase of West Gateway Place is currently under construction. She believes it will be completed around the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025. 

“Affordable housing saved us from the streets and brought our family back together,” said Sandoval. “It takes a long time, it’s a lengthy process, but it’s worth it.”

You can learn more about applying for affordable housing on Jamboree Housing’s website, where you can also view a complete list of their developments.

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