A New Affordable Housing Community in Watsonville Received Nearly 2,500 Applications for 46 Apartment Homes

Grand Opening of Pippin Orchards Apartments, a Development of MidPen Housing
April 5, 2019

On April 5th, city and county leaders gathered to celebrate the Grand Opening of Pippin Orchards Housing, an affordable rental community developed by MidPen Housing.

Pippin Orchards is the result of a multi-jurisdictional collaboration. When initially planned, of the 46 affordable homes, 20 were located within Watsonville city limits while 26 were situated on unincorporated Santa Cruz County land. Since construction began, the county’s piece has been annexed into city boundaries. However, this community for hardworking individuals and families in southern Santa Cruz County wouldn’t have been possible without a visionary partnership between city and county leaders.

Located within a quarter mile of Freedom Boulevard, one of Watsonville’s main thoroughfares and one of the County’s “High Quality Transit Corridors” as identified in the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, Pippin Orchards provides its residents with easy access to retail centers, healthcare facilities, schools, and many other amenities.

“After years of envisioning and planning, we’re thrilled to celebrate the Grand Opening of Pippin Orchards Apartments which provides high quality housing that our valued workforce can afford,” said Watsonville Mayor Francisco Estrada. “With such close proximity to public transportation, shopping, restaurants, a public park and county clinic, residents here will be able to work, shop and play within walking distance to their home. It’s communities like Pippin Orchards that inspire us to continue to find ways to build much-needed affordable housing.”

As evidence of the tremendous need for affordable housing in southern Santa Cruz County, within a 2-week application acceptance period, Pippin Orchards received 2491 unique applications for its 46 apartment homes.

“Pippin Orchards is what happens when the city, county and Housing Authority work together with a shared vision in mind: creating affordable homes for families in our community who need them,” said Jan Lindenthal, Chief Real Estate Development Officer for MidPen Housing. “Because of their collaboration and leadership, Pippin Orchards provides a safe and affordable home for families with young children, formerly homeless transition-aged youth, individuals with disabilities, and workers in our community including teachers, agricultural workers, painters and masons.”

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz provided 31 project-based vouchers which helped secure tax credits and other financing and deepened the affordability of Pippin Orchards.

“Pippin Orchards is particularly remarkable when I think about the years of work, and the level of collaboration and partnerships it took to get to today,” said Jenny Panetta, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz. “It was MidPen, and this development in particular, that made us rethink the way our program can best impact the community. By providing vouchers specific to the project we were able to actually help build the units and, in turn, increase housing supply.”

Pippin Orchards provides 3 one-bedroom, 29 two-bedroom, and 14 three-bedroom apartment homes for individuals and families earning up to 60% of Area Median Income which is $66,960 for a four-person household. Six apartment homes are reserved for individuals with disabilities and their families, who receive supportive services from the San Andreas Regional Center and Housing Choices, a social service agency that enhances the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Two additional apartments have been set-aside for young adults ages 18 – 24 who have experienced homelessness.

Residents of Pippin Orchards enjoy a landscaped courtyard with a children’s playground and gardening boxes. Other amenities include a computer lab, after school program classroom, a community room with kitchen for resident gatherings, and secured bicycle storage space.

All Pippin Orchards’ community members will have access to onsite services provided by MidPen Services Corp., including academically-based after school program for youth, financial capabilities courses, vocational development, computer labs and assistance, health and wellness programs, and access to other community resources. MidPen Property Management Corp. will provide professional property management onsite.

Financing for the $29.1M development was provided by the City of Watsonville, the County of Santa Cruz, the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, and MUFG Union Bank.