PARADISE, Calif. — Rehousing fire survivors and building homes for those on a limited income: it's happening across the Northstate and even more of this work is now coming to the Town of Paradise.
Chico nonprofit Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) is making it happen. The group has already aided in the construction of more than 2,600 housing units across Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta, Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties for people and families fitting the above description. Most recently, they rebuilt the 36 affordable-unit Paradise Community Village Apartments after it was destroyed in the 2018 Camp Fire.
Four lots have been secured across Young Avenue and Judy Lane in Paradise. CHIP is tasked with replacing septic tanks, bringing in fill, and preparing the land for four limited-income families who will work to build each other's homes as part of their self-help housing program. CHIP's director of homeownership, Jill Quezada, says once the foundation is poured and the families have been identified by the end of November, the four groups will get to work to have completed homes by the summer of 2023.
"Each household has to contribute 30 hours or more each week to the construction of their home and the other homes in their community. These four families will get to know each other very well from beginning to the end and then move in together on the same day," says Quezada, standing in one of the Young Avenue lots.
The wall construction, framing, painting and fencing are left for the families while CHIP covers most other aspects. The nonprofit has seen success in this building style across Northstate counties before, but this time is slightly different logistically. Rather than building in subdivisions, these lots are scattered throughout the town. Either way, families leave with a new home, a new community, and new skills.
"Most of the people who come out here have no construction experience so we oversee everything they do. When families are done with the project they have all the skills to maintain their homes in the future. They can add onto their homes, they're able to do additions. We've had people participate in the program and then get jobs in the construction industry, so it's very empowering," says Quezada.
But these four homes will be just the beginning. The nonprofit is working to complete 12 different homes altogether on the Butte County Ridge. The first four are intended to be for limited-income families, the next four for Camp Fire survivors looking to rebuild on their owned property, and the last four will be determined later on depending on which group they see more demand in.
The community's pitching in to make it happen. CHIP's president and CEO, Seana O'Shaughnessy, says the Paradise Rotary Foundation and Golden Valley Bank have donated funds to make it happen. They join a nearly $650,000 grant from the North Valley Community Foundation which is helping to accelerate the project.
"It allows us to be here as long as there's demand for the homes. We can build those first 12 homes and then look to the next 12 and just really be here for the long haul," says O'Shaughnessy.
While she acknowledges that affordable housing is important specifically to these two groups, housing affordability is important to everyone, especially in Butte County where housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years.
"It's out of control right now, the cost of housing. We are absolutely committed to helping solve that problem for our community," says O'Shaughnessy.
Those interested in participating in CHIP's self-help program are urged to contact their offices. Contact information can be found on their website.
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