A new rental subdivision in Selma is sparking controversy. The subdivision was supposed to be a part of a “buy to own” community, but when times got tough the construction company decided to take a new route to finish its plans.
In a bad housing market there's a roar of construction. In Selma, 67 homes are springing to life; it’s creating dozens of jobs, but the frames have become a foundation for controversy. “We bought at the height of the market and made a substantial investment. We've seen the prices come down because of construction,” says nearby neighbor Gill Ocoha.
The group of homes was a part of a bigger vision. In 2008, BHL started construction on 200 houses meant for owners. Gill Ochoa and other neighbors bought into phase one; then the market crashed. To keep the project alive the company secured state funding. It turned the unfinished “buy to own” homes into low income rentals. “Our block is real quiet and we get along with everyone to bring in those people in it might bring drama,” says nearby neighbor Julissa Garcia.
“We can’t control the homes but we can control the zoning,” says Selma City Manager D.B Heusser. In 2009, the city stepped in; it sued the construction company and lost. After, the city won on an appeal. The company tweaked its plans. “The front and back yards will all be maintained by the management company,” says Heusser. The yards will not have fences; it will be open spaces for families to play.
The single family homes will have a community center with computers for after school tutoring. “Neighbor’s property won’t decrease, crime won’t go up,” says Heusser.
With mixed feelings, neighbors listen to what's become a pounding in their heads. “I thought we were improving our lives being homeowners but apparently that kind of bit us; we have to be optimistic and hopefully something good comes of it,” says Ocoha.
The subdivision will help generate money for the city through property taxes.
The low income rentals are expected to be finished by late March.
Christina Lusby Reporting.