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Long waits for affordable housing in Ceres
• No new units proposed on the immediate horizon
Almond Terrace.jpg
Ceres doesn’t have enough low-income apartments and those like Almond Terracehave a waiting list.

Ceres is following a statewide trend that’s seeing fewer options available for those who can’t keep up with inflating rent prices. And there appears to be no relief in sight in terms of new units.

According to a study released Thursday by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and California Housing, over one million affordable rental units would need to be constructed in California to meet the needs of 1.3 million households classified as Extremely Low Income, or ELI. Currently, there are only 286,844 rental units in California considered affordable for the ELI population, or those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30 percent of their area median income. 

At the state level, Gov. Gavin Newsom has set a goal to build 3.5 million new homes in California by 2025, and advocates for affordable housing are urging the effort to be geared toward rental units for low-income families. Conservatives in the state Legislature blame the regulatory burden of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as reason for the lack of building projects.

In Ceres, there are a variety of options that cater to these households, including Section 8 housing and subsidized apartment complexes, as well as low-income apartments that don’t have rental assistance but are still considered affordable, thanks to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. Those units typically have long wait lists.

According to Affordable Housing Online, a web database of affordable housing in towns throughout the country, 41.5 percent of households in Ceres are renters. About 56.42 percent of those who rent in Ceres are considered “rent overburdened,” meaning more than 30 percent of their gross income goes toward rent. A household making less than $3,347 per month would be considered overburdened when paying Ceres’ median monthly rent rate of $1004, give or take $45. The median gross income for households in Ceres is $47,858 a year, or $3,988 a month.

According to Tom Westbrook, the city of Ceres’ Community Development Director, there are no low-income apartment complexes being proposed. He said the last such complex was the Della Tiara in 2005.

“We have talked to some folks who are interested (in developing) multi-family housing but they haven’t discussed anything affordable,” said Westbrook. “I believe they would all be market rate.”

The next housing development in Ceres could come in the form of Whitmore Ranch Annexation. It must first be approved by LAFCO which will consider it on April 24. Westbrook is not sure how fast the developer will move but the project is mostly single-family homes with some high-density residential uses.

There are a total of six affordable apartment properties in Ceres, which contain about 328 affordable apartments for rent. All of these complexes have waiting lists, and the city’s apartment vacancy rate sits at around two percent. 

Many of these rental apartments are income based housing with about 213 apartments that set rent based on income. Often referred to as “HUD apartments,” there are 146 Project-Based Section 8 subsidized apartments in Ceres. There are 115 other low income apartments that don’t have rental assistance but are still considered to be affordable housing for low-income families.

Low-income apartments in Ceres are available at Almond Terrace, 2004 Evans Road, Rivercrest Della Tiara Apartments, 2809 Della Drive; and Ceres Christian Terrace, a facility for senior citizens at 1859 Richard Way. There’s also Casa Grande Village at 3100 E. Whitmore, and Whitmore Oaks Apartments, a senior apartment facility at 2617 Evans Road where there are no units available. Whitmore Oaks has expressed interest in expanding in Ceres at another location but nothing has been proposed to the city.

Affordable housing program eligibility is always determined by one’s income. Each household’s income is compared to the incomes of all other households in the area. This is accomplished through a statistic established by the government called the Area Median Income, most often referred to as AMI. The AMI is calculated and published each year by HUD.

HUD often uses an area larger than a city to determine the AMI because HUD anticipates those searching for housing will look beyond individual cities during their housing search. For Ceres, the AMI is calculated from all households within Stanislaus County.

In Ceres, HUD calculates the Area Median Income for a family of four as $60,700.