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Oak Park seeks farm workers for subsidized housing 

Oak Park Paso Robles

Oak Park Phase 1 project is completed and nearly fully occupied.

Paso Robles Housing Authority has completed the first phase of its four-phased project to replace old military housing at Oak Park in north Paso Robles, with the second expected to be finished by the end of the year. All the units are filled, except for those units reserved for farm workers and their families.

Half of the old military housing at Oak Park has been torn down for the new apartment complex. The remaining units will be torn down after Phase 2 is complete.

Half of the old military housing at Oak Park has been torn down for the new apartment complex. The remaining units will be torn down after Phase 2 is complete.

“We know there’s a large population of farm workers working in the wineries,” Paso Robles Housing Authority Executive Director Dave Cooke said.

Of the 80 units in phase one, 20 of those are for farm workers. In order to be accepted to rent a unit, an applicant must qualify under the United States Department of Agriculture rules, which Cooke said basically boils down to being a farm industry worker, which includes truck drivers and others, or being a retired or disabled farm laborer, and at least $5,800 a year of the household’s income coming from farm work. Cooke said the farm worker has to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

The two phases will have a total of 150 units in a multi-family apartment complex. Those units replace 87 units that were torn down for the project. When all four phases are complete, there will be up to 300 units on the site where there were 148 before.

The amount of rent the tenant will have to pay depends on the total household income, the remaining is subsidized. The units available at Oak Park are one bedroom through four bedroom apartments and range from 850 square feet to 1,455 square feet. Rents before subsidy are $700 for a one-bedroom apartment, $800 for two, $975 for three and $1,175 for four.

“They’re pretty good size units, Cooke said and added that the new buildings are solar-powered so gas and electric bills are very low. “It’s the only apartment complex that is 100 percent solar in Paso Robles. [The units] are very energy-efficient.”

The remaining units for farm workers are two- and three-bedroom units and are located at 29th and Park streets. All units come with a stove, dishwasher, miniblinds, refrigerator, washer/dryer hookups and free WiFi.

Phase 1 was completed in September 2014, that same month, Cooke said, the first tenants began moving in. The 60 non-farm worker units and seven of the farm worker units are occupied. He said the Housing Authority received quite a few applications for the farm work units, but for one reason or another, they did not qualify. Cooke said the households may have exceeded the allowable max income, or perhaps the farm worker was not a legal resident.

Cooke said if any employer in the agriculture industry wanted to share the affordable housing information with employees, the Housing Authority would deliver fliers in both English and Spanish and talk to anyone interested.

The second phase will add another 70 units, with 25 percent for farm workers, and will be completed at the end of the year or early 2016. There are currently more than 600 people on the wait list for the current project. Cooke said he is unsure if the Housing Authority will be able to fill the second phase from the wait list or if the process will have to start over. He said it is based on affordable housing regulations.

For more information on the Housing Authority’s projects, go to www.pasoroblesha.org, email info@pasoroblesha.org or call 805-238-4015.

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