Twin Rivers, a 218-unit public housing development constructed in the early 1940’s with a small subset of buildings in the 1970’s, is the oldest development in the County of Sacramento’s public housing inventory. The 22-acre site near downtown Sacramento has existed as an isolated and disconnected community, cut off from the surrounding area by railroad tracks, levees and rivers, with limited connections via rail, road or other transit to the rest of the neighborhood. The systems and infrastructure at Twin Rivers have reached the end of their useful life, existing buildings do not conform to the current seismic standards, and the units no longer meet the needs of today’s families.
In response to these issues, the Housing Authority of the County of Sacramento (HACOS) was awarded a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to develop a Neighborhood Transformation Plan (NTP) for the larger River District/Railyards neighborhood. Using a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and guided by the Specific Plans for the River District and the Railyards, the 2030 General Plan, and the Metropolitan Transportation Plan Sustainable Communities Strategy 2035, the River District-Railyards Transformation Plan was developed over an 18-month period through a broad-based, community planning process that included residents, businesses, community stakeholders, and elected officials. The Transformation Plan sets forth a comprehensive blueprint of the neighborhood, housing, and people strategies essential to realize the collective vision for this pivotal community.
As the largest in-fill development site west of the Mississippi, the River District-Railyards has the potential to become one of the premier in-town living and destination locations for residents and visitors in the Central Valley. With long-term development guided by the two Specific Plans, the focus of the Neighborhood Strategy is on short- and mid-term community improvements that address the immediate concerns of existing residents and primes the pump for future development.
With a highly visible homeless population, the County, City, SHRA and the organizations serving these individuals and families are committed to working together to adopt programs and tactics to sensitively handle the homeless’ needs while expecting an appropriate standard of conduct from this population.
With a multi -pronged approach of enforcement and support, strategies include reworking the existing street management program to address those that do and do not want assistance, eliminating unsanctioned food handouts, working with service providers to improve existing facilities, and implementing a Good Neighbor Policy.
The current lack of foot traffic coupled with the primarily light industrial nature of the community results in few “eyes on the street.” Through Crime Prevention on Through Environmental Design (CPTED), neighborhood watches, and enhanced community policing efforts, residents, businesses, and the Sacramento Police Department will work together to enhance the safety of the community as it transitions overtime.
While only minutes from Downtown and near the heart of the regional transportation network, the River District-Railyards is startlingly disconnected from its immediate environs. Limited access points and roadways originally designed to facilitate the movement of goods and materials inhibit movement within and out of the community today. Centered on the establishment of a new Blue Light Rail Station adjacent to Twin Rivers, residents and the area will be reconnected into the heart of the City by foot, bike, bus, rail, and car. Complementing the new station are “Complete Streets” on main travel corridors, and the creation of physical connections across the American River and to Downtown.
Anchored around the Twin Rivers public housing site, the Housing Strategy replaces the 218-unit obsolete public housing development with a new 487-unit mixed-use, mixed-income community that incorporates sustainable design and construction techniques. The Housing Strategy currently encompasses the demolition and redevelopment of the entire 22-acre Twin Rivers complex, including development of approximately 4 acres located immediately to the east of the public housing site. Public housing units will be replaced one-for-one within a larger 487-unit rental housing program both on- and off -site, comprising of 135 market rate, 134 low-income and 218 public housing units. All units will be intermingled and dispersed throughout the site – creating a true mixed-income community.
Unit types include townhouses, garden apartments, and 4-story apartment buildings. A mixed-use 4-story apartment building will also be located adjacent to the new Blue Line Light Rail station to take advantage of transit oriented development opportunities.
New and existing streets will reconnect the current site to the surrounding grid, tying the community back into the larger neighborhood. Taller buildings frame the edges of the development along heavier-trafficked streets, with the building heights stepping back along the smaller streets. Building facades will be articulated in order to maintain a fine-grained scale.
New units will be larger – designed to meet the space and storage requirements of today’s families, and incorporate energy-efficient and water-saving features and fixtures, such as Energy Star-rated appliances and central HVAC systems, programmable thermostats, low-flow toilets and showerheads, and appropriate levels of insulation.
Based on an in-depth needs assessment of Twin Rivers public housing residents, the People Strategy is designed to support individuals and families as they move along the self-sufficiency continuum – providing the wraparound services needed to move them from where they are today to where they want to be.
Using targeted on-site case management and a Service Provider Network leveraging existing programs, services for adult residents are built around a “Work First” model, while youth programs are grounded in a dual generation approach that engages parents, grandparents, and caregivers in achieving positive outcomes.
Life skills training, career planning, job readiness, computer skills, and Adult Basic Education. These are some of the programs that will be made available to address employment barriers. Disabled adults will also be linked vocational rehabilitation services. An Employment Specialist will match residents to local and regional employment opportunities with a focus on sustainable careers in rapid growth industries like healthcare, green jobs, and information technology.
Access, availability, and involvement. The long-term plan calls for the establishment of a new neighborhood Pre-K through 8th grade elementary school – serving not only as an education center, but a hub for cultural and community programming. In the meantime, the Plan seeks to create more opportunities for participation in high-quality early childhood education programs like Head Start, providing universal access to out-of-school time enrichment programming, to link transitional-aged youths to career-oriented summer work experiences, and to connect classroom learning to at-home experiences through parental education and involvement.
To support the implementation of the strategies the NTP set forth, HACOS and the City of Sacramento submitted an application for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant in February 2015. On September 28, 2015, HUD awarded one of five $30 million Implementation Grants to Sacramento.
Since receiving the award, SHRA and its partners have been actively working to secure additional grant funding to implement the strategies identified in the NTP.
Jan 2012 – $300,000 CNI Planning Grant Award
Oct 2012 – MBS Selected as Master Developer & Housing Lead
Jan 2013 – HACOS & MBS enter into a Master Planning Exclusive Negotiation Agreement
Jan 2014 – Final Neighborhood Transformation Plan to HUD
Sep 2015 – Awarded $30 million CNI Implementation Grant
Apr 2016 – Urban Strategies Agreement for Resident Services
Oct 2016 – Acquisition of 12th Street Triangle Site
Jul 2017 – Tentative Map & Site Entitlements (Blocks A/B) Approved
Aug 2017 – ESA, Relocation/Demo Plans, & Project Approved
Sep 2017 – Phase 1 Relocation Begins on 9-15 w/120-day notices
Oct 2017 – Construction Design & Offsite Demo Plans
Dec 2017 – Approval of Master Development Agreement
Dec 2017 – Tree Removal
Jan 2017 – First Phase of Development Underwriting