Mutual Housing Newsletter April 2013

Mutual Interests, April 2013

Norwood Estates earns high rating for groundbreaking green rehab project

Our green rehab at Norwood Mutual Housing included installation of the pictured no-mow turf, which reduces landscape maintenance needs at the community.

Our green rehab at Norwood Mutual Housing included installation of the pictured no-mow turf, which reduces landscape maintenance needs at the community.

Mutual Housing is thrilled to have earned a very special distinction from the rating agency Build It Green for its recent green rehab of Norwood Mutual Housing.

“It is the first and only existing multifamily project to get rated in Sacramento County,” said Christopher Becker, Project Manager for Build It Green’s GreenPoint Rated program.

The Norwood Mutual Housing rehab received a score of 40 from the rating agency. The minimum score for certification is 25, and the maximum is 50.

New green features at Norwood Mutual Housing include upgrades to energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and lighting, faucet aerators and low-flow toilets. Also new is an array of water-saving landscape improvements, alongside a new smart irrigation system that includes sensors to measure soil moistness – thus eliminating system activation during rainy weather.

Our green rehab efforts at Norwood Mutual Housing were made possible with support from the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, as well as our steadfast national sponsor NeighborWorks® America.

“Our plan for any work we do from now on, whether rehab or new construction, is to get Build It Green or LEED certification with as high a score as possible,” Mutual Housing Project Manager and Certified Green Building Professional Vanessa Guerra said.

Next up on Mutual Housing’s green rehab agenda are several projects at our communities in South Sacramento.


Davis community celebrates New Harmony grand opening

Mutual Housing staff members prepare to welcome guests to the Grand Opening of New Harmony Mutual Housing.

Mutual Housing staff members prepare to welcome guests to the Grand Opening of New Harmony Mutual Housing.

New Harmony Mutual Housing, the community that brought the Sacramento and Yolo arms of our organization together into a fruitful embrace, recently hosted over 100 people at its Grand Opening Celebration.

The desire to develop additional attractive, safe and wheelchair accessible affordable housing adjacent to its Owendale community in South Davis is what led Yolo Mutual Housing Association to approach Sacramento Mutual Housing Association in 2007.

The two groups worked together to gain the approval of local officials and attract public and private financing to make the development happen, and the successful collaboration led to a merger.

“New Harmony is an excellent representation of what collaboration in the affordable housing field can bring to a community,” Mutual Housing Board Chair and resident Mindy Romero said. “It is an innovative and vibrant addition to Davis and now very much valued for the wonderful homes it provides to more than 200 of the city’s residents.”

Prior to the program of speakers at the event, Mutual Housing staff members led small groups of attendees on tours of the New Harmony community and some of its 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments. All 69 living spaces are wheelchair accessible or adaptable. The community includes a shared central garden, a playground and basketball court, free high-speed Internet in all homes, and access to the scenic Davis bike path and green belt.

Art and sculpture by local and regional talents, which are on display in the community garden and elsewhere on the grounds, lend a unique personality to New Harmony. All artists used recycled materials in crafting the turtle, elephants and children that grace the community with their quirky and welcoming presence.

In addition to its many on-site amenities, New Harmony is built to high green design standards, with a solar-powered community building, energy-efficient apartments, and environmentally friendly interior finishes such as ENERGY STAR appliances and filtration systems. Energy upgrades mean residents can expect lower-than-usual utility bills. The on-site photovoltaic solar system is designed to offset over 70 percent of the electrical energy needed at the community.

Event speakers included Davis Mayor Pro Tempore Dan Wolk, Davis City Councilmember and former YMHA board chair Lucas Frerichs and California State Senator Lois Wolk, as well as representatives of U.S. Representative Garamendi, and New Harmony funders Bank of America, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and Merritt Community Capital Corporation.

Inman Rouce, Management Consultant with NeighborWorks® America, a mutual housing funder and supporter and a Congressionally-chartered national organization, also addressed the crowd.

“I am aware that Mutual Housing has been a respected organization in this locality and region for many years,” Rouce said. “But on occasions like this it is important to acknowledge that they are also among the best of the best when evaluated from a national perspective.”

Rouce shared that as a NeighborWorks® Network member, Mutual Housing is thoroughly evaluated on periodic basis by a skilled team of external reviewers to ensure the ongoing efficiency of all its various critical operating systems.

“Outstanding projects such as New Harmony are tangible evidence of why they carry our highest organizational ranking nationally, reserved for the very best: Exemplary,” Rouce said. “I want to commend them for their continued excellence in the provision of high-quality affordable mutual housing to this community.”


Davis residents earn National Equity Fund scholarships

Rebekah Davis, a Mutual Housing board member and resident of Moore Village Mutual Housing in Davis, has won a scholarship from our investor National Equity Fund, Inc.

Rebekah Davis, a Mutual Housing board member and resident of Moore Village Mutual Housing in Davis, has won a scholarship from our investor National Equity Fund, Inc.

Two of our residents at Moore Village Mutual Housing in Davis, Rebekah Davis and Medhanit Hailu, have won funds to assist with their college pursuits through the National Equity Fund’s 25th Anniversary Scholarship Program for affordable housing residents.

“We are thrilled for our residents for this extra encouragement toward attaining their educational goals,” Mutual Housing CEO Rachel Iskow said. “We are also so pleased at the collaboration between our community organizing and property management teams that made these wins possible.”

Moore Village Property Manager Tina Ortiz, of Jon Berkley Property Management, heard about the scholarship opportunity at a resident council meeting from Lead Organizer Fernando Cibrian. She immediately thought of and nominated Davis and Hailu.

“I’ve known them both for a few years, and I’ve been impressed with their hard work, trying to go to school and raising their children,” Ortiz said. “These two women have gone above and beyond to find help and resources. I’ve seen them struggle, but the main thing is that they have never given up, they will not let anything come between them and their goal.”

Both Davis and Hailu attend CSU Sacramento and receive financial aid for their tuition, but not for books and other school expenses. Davis is a physical geography major with a biology minor, and Hailu is studying chemistry with the aim of eventually attending pharmacy school.

Ortiz, who has had her own financial and family challenges, said she often sees herself in the residents she works with at Mutual Housing. She said she believes strongly that her responsibilities go beyond collecting rent and enforcing rules.

“As property managers, we have so many things going on, but I went to that meeting and paid attention,” Ortiz said. “I want residents to know that here at Mutual Housing you’re not out there by yourself. That’s what we’re all about.”

The two awards were $2,000 and $500.

National Equity Fund, Inc. is the leading national syndicator of low-income housing tax credits. They revitalize communities, empower individuals, and create economic opportunities nationwide. The Fund has invested in Mutual Housing’s properties in Davis and is a key partner in expanding the supply of affordable housing.


NeighborWorks® America grant to spur new mutual housing communities

Mutual Housing learned recently that we will be receiving an expendable NeighborWorks® America grant of $105,750 for 2013. This generous support will allow us to forge ahead with many of our key priorities for this year, including:

· Commencing construction for Mutual Housing at Spring Lake in Woodland

· Installing of photovoltaics for solar power at four of our Davis communities, providing solar power and reduced energy costs for 425 families

· Green renovation and refinancing work on at least three of our communities in South Sacramento

· Building green operating capacity across all departments and application for national green certification from NeighborWorks® America

· Developing youth and family resident leadership through a Culture of College program to include college campus touring

· Acquiring and renovating a community in Stockton, in partnership with the residents

· Co-hosting the national NeighborWorks® Community Leadership Institute in Sacramento

NeighborWorks® America is a national network with a direct allocation from Congress.

Resident Voices

Mutual Housing asks residents to share with us their stories – to tell us, in their own voices, what it means to have safe and stable housing, and what it’s like to live in their Mutual Housing community. With “Resident Voices,” we are proud to inspire our readers with their words.

This month, in honor of the wheelchair accessibility and adaptability of New Harmony, we would like to share the perspective of a resident who has enjoyed this feature at another one of our Davis communities.

By Joyce Wallace, Moore Village Mutual Housing, Davis, CA

For me, living here at Moore Village is the best move I have ever made. I have lived in a lot of apartments but this apartment is handicapped accessible. They have ramps all over so I can get to where I want. That means a lot to me because I have polio and I am in a wheelchair, so I can get in my power chair and go where I want with ease. And if you want to go out at night, it is well-lit. The whole complex is kept clean and quiet. Everyone seems to get along, and my apartment is wheelchair accessible. The bathroom is big enough to get a wheelchair into. I have a one bedroom and it is very easy for me to get around in, and that most of all makes me feel at ease. I love living here, I have since the day I moved in. There’s a whole lot more I can say about Moore Village Apartments. Just ask me. I love it here.

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