First affordable housing project built on state surplus land opens in downtown Sacramento

Mayor Darrell Steinberg recently joined City colleagues and State officials to celebrate the grand opening of an environmentally sustainable affordable housing project built on state surplus land downtown.

Sonrisa is a development of 58 housing units built by the Capitol Area Development Authority at 13th and O streets. It’s the first project completed under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order prioritizing affordable housing development on excess, state-owned sites.

The micro-units in the building, powered entirely by electricity, are also examples of the innovative and sustainable design techniques the governor is seeking to encourage. The structure is built using mass timber rather than steel, which is more expensive to produce and is shipped over long distances.

“Sonrisa demonstrates what we can achieve in partnership with the state to reinvent our downtown into a true neighborhood that doesn’t rely on office buildings to thrive,” Steinberg said. “This is a zero net energy project near light rail in the heart of our downtown. It’s what we need to do to meet our housing goals AND our climate goals.”

Sonrisa residents will be able to take advantage of a ground floor job training center that CADA is opening in partnership with the Sacramento Employment & Training Agency (SETA). One hundred percent of the apartments are affordable to people with low or very low incomes. All residents receive transit passes.

“We’re really excited about the range of services we’re providing at this site, both for the sustainability of the planet and the sustainability of our residents and their lives going forward,” said CADA Executive Director Danielle Foster.

Already entirely leased, Sonrisa adds to Sacramento’s growing stock of housing downtown. The central city has added 4,201 housing units since 2018 and currently has 2,160 under construction, according to the data firm CoStar.

The City of Sacramento is currently helping finance two additional apartment projects on state surplus land, one with CADA at 805 R St. and one on Arden Way in north Sacramento.

The State is also seeking developers to adapt or demolish three large office buildings on the Capitol Mall and replace them with hundreds of new housing units.

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