MISSION VIEJO : Affordable Housing Project Underway

Officials broke ground Thursday on an $18-million project that will be the city’s first all-affordable housing development.

The Arroyo Vista Apartments project, a cooperative venture involving the city, county, state and a private developer, was praised at ceremonies on a dusty, graded hill off Crown Valley Parkway.

"A lot of cities are scared to bring in low-income people," said Jon Goetz, an attorney for a Newport Beach law firm representing Mission Viejo. "With an affluent community like Mission Viejo behind this project, I think you’ll see more projects of this type."

Monthly rents at the planned 156-unit complex will range from $551 for a one-bedroom, 624-square-foot apartment to $852 for a four-bedroom unit.

Only two other complexes in Mission Viejo include any affordable housing under the federal Section 8 subsidized housing program.

City officials said they’ve been working for 18 months to develop Arroyo Vista Apartments using tax revenues set aside by the city’s Redevelopment Agency.

Municipalities are required by law to set aside 20% of redevelopment revenues for affordable housing projects.

"This is the first time we’ve been able to finance such a project," Mayor Susan Withrow said. "Our (Redevelopment Agency) is only 2 years old."

The city is contributing $710,000 to building costs, with the county putting in $1.2 million.

The California Housing Finance Agency is providing $7 million in low-interest loans.

A.F. Evans Co., the project developer, is financing the rest of the project.

"I think we managed to fill a void in our community and make the ‘California promise’ affordable to everyone," Withrow said.

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