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New affordable housing in Nevada City helps those on verge of homelessness

Cashin's Field in Nevada City is a new 51-unit complex with a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for people making 30-60% of the area median income.

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Nevada City Monday afternoon, local and state leaders officially celebrated the opening of Cashin's Field.

Built on what was a vacant lot, Cashin’s Field is a 51-unit affordable housing complex near historic downtown Nevada City and the 7 Hills Business District, with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

“It’s really walkable, so we are just within striking distance of downtown Nevada City: grocery stores, there’s a bus stop here, there’s a pharmacy nearby,” said Nevada County District 1 Supervisor Heidi Hall.

The apartments are mainly helping people who already lived in the area, she said – keeping the benefit local.

“80% of the 51 units here are rented out to our local Grass Valley and Nevada City residents,” said Hall. “These are folks who work down at the local movie theater. They work at the grocery store just down the street. They work in retail businesses. They are people who help make the economy run. They were some of our essential workers back during COVID. But it's very difficult for them to afford housing in California at all."

Cashin's Field is for people who make 30% to 60% of the area median income. Depending on that income, Hall said, someone might pay anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per month.

"There's a scarcity of housing, and that drives the rental prices up and the sale price,” said Nevada City Mayor Doug Fleming. “Everybody during the pandemic moved from the Bay, here. That drove housing prices up, so affordability is a big challenge for a lot of people here."

He said Cashin's Field went up in about two years and is a model of local and state governments working with private partners to get the job done.

“It is key to keeping our local workers here in town,” said Hall. “The folks who already committed, who are part of the community, who want to stay here and just have trouble affording housing.”

According to Zillow Rental Manager, the average rent in Nevada City is currently $2,000 per month. The site lists just 18 available rentals.

Maeve and Orv Fry moved in on Feb. 1, after learning they could no longer live at their old place on the edge of Grass Valley. They’re in their early 80s and have been married for more than 25 years.

“We were living in a really lovely, very old fifth wheel. It was 40 feet long. Inside it was warm and cozy and wonderful, and we thought we'd be there forever,” Maeve Fry said. “Then the property owner decided he needed to sell, and we didn't know what we were going to do."

A friend told them about Cashin's Field. They applied and got accepted as tenants.

Their trailer was about 400 square feet. Now, the Frys have more than 800 square feet.

"We were only paying $400 a month where we were because Orv was caretaking. We're paying more than double now,” said Maeve Fry.

They're on a fixed income and every dollar counts, but they say-- they know the cost is still relatively low.

“Honestly, I don't know what we would've done if this hadn't turned up,” she said. “I probably would have asked friends could we stay, you know, find a room somewhere.”

Local leaders say Cashin’s Field is a strong start – but acknowledge more housing needs to be built. Supervisor Hall said they’re actively looking for other spots throughout the county to do something similar.

“This is the first low-income housing unit of its kind that’s been built here in Nevada City. It’s a very small city. The county itself has 100,000 people in it, so in the three cities where we can build, there isn’t that much land and the financing is extremely difficult,” said Hall.

Mayor Fleming said his next priority is building apartments for people who make just a little more—like teachers and firefighters-- which he calls workforce housing. There are already a couple of potential spots the city eyeing for that, he said.

Cashin’s Field fulfills the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirement of Nevada City for low- and low-low-income housing, Fleming said. He added this means Nevada City will be one of the few municipalities in the state to meet its goal in these categories.


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