This story was first published in Affordable Housing Finance.

Rocky Hill Veterans Housing will be one of the most unique developments built this year.

The 39-unit community is utilizing modified shipping containers in its design to deliver new affordable housing in Vacaville, Calif.

The $21 million Rocky Hill Veterans Housing will be built using modified steel shipping containers. The 39-unit community is designed by G7A Gonzales Architects.
The $21 million Rocky Hill Veterans Housing will be built using modified steel shipping containers. The 39-unit community is designed by G7A Gonzales Architects.

Community Development Partners (CDP) held a groundbreaking ceremony for Rocky Hill today. Vacaville Community Housing is the nonprofit partner, and Integrity Housing is the co-general partner.

Barring any unexpected delays, the empty dirt lot where officials gathered for the ceremony will become a vibrant housing community by the end of the year.

The $21 million project’s structural system will be comprised of modified steel shipping containers, which is stronger than typical wood framing.

CDP leaders recognize that Rocky Hill will have a steep learning curve, but they were willing to test a new design and approach.

They hope the project will realize several advantages. In addition to being sustainable, the project’s construction time looks to shorter, says Kyle Paine, CDP president.

Rocky Hill has a construction schedule of about six months. A conventionally built project would take twice that long.

The cost for this first-of-a-kind project will be similar to other multifamily projects in pricey California, but the experience gained with Rocky Hill will help future developments realize new efficiencies, Paine says. CDP is considering building a second development with shipping containers.

At Rocky Hill, 29 units will be reserved for veterans, with the remainder having a veteran preference. Eleven of the veterans’ units will have project-based Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Supportive Housing vouchers, a program that combines HUD Sec-8 rental assistance with VA case management services.

The VA, Community Action North Bay, and LifeSTEPS will provide supportive services.

“It’s been a priority to take care of veterans,” says Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, a retired Air Force colonel.

The project, which is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, will also be good for the larger community, according to Paine.

“The overall goal of this project is to catalyze a neighborhood renewal,” he says. “Not only is the project itself designed to promote interaction among residents, a resident services coordinator will work with the nearby Boys & Girls Club and other community partners to coordinate services and strengthen the existing neighborhood.”

To finance the project, the development team assembled more than a half-dozen layers of funding, including low-income housing tax credits awarded by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and syndicated by the National Equity Fund. Citi Community Capital also provided critical financing, including the permanent debt.

Other financial partners include Home Depot Foundation, city of Vacaville, California Department of Housing and Community Development, CalVet, and California Statewide Communities Development Authority.

Rocky Hill is designed by G7A Gonzales Architects. Precision General Commercial Contractors is constructing the development, and GrowthPoint Structures is providing the modified shipping containers. Solari Enterprises will serve as the property manager.

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