Heavy equipment is reshaping the land at 78 Atkinson Lane into an 80-unit affordable housing complex. —Tony Nunez/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—About four dozen people were on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking of an 80-unit affordable housing complex off Atkinson Lane on Nov. 18.

In his opening remarks, MidPen Housing President and CEO Matt Franklin said that creating affordable housing communities like Pippin Orchards II is a “journey.”

“And in this case, there’s so much partnership, and collective work and collective purpose that came together to create this incredible opportunity,” Franklin said.

This included the County of Santa Cruz, the county’s Housing Authority, the state’s housing and community development department and Wells Fargo, all of which had a representative address the crowd gathered under canopies a few yards away from the site of the future complex. 

In the works since 2013, the project is an extension of the 46-unit Pippin Orchards apartment complex completed by the nonprofit developer in 2019

Of the 80 units, 39 of them will be deed-restricted to farmworker families, 37 would be filled through vouchers from the Housing Authority and all of them would be listed between 30-60% of the area’s median income.

The complex will also feature a community room, shared open space and 137 parking spaces, with an entrance off Brewington Avenue. MidPen will also provide on-site services such as after school programs, financial literacy and employment preparation. 

It’s one of three affordable housing complexes currently under construction. Just down the street, Eden Housing, another nonprofit developer, is constructing 53 units. And down Freedom Boulevard on Miles Lane, MidPen has broken ground on a 72-unit complex.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Greg Caput reminded the crowd of the litany of challenges the Pajaro Valley has faced over the past two years, starting with the Covid-19 pandemic and ending with Watsonville Community Hospital’s plummet into bankruptcy and the subsequent Herculean community effort to convert the health care resource into a publicly-owned entity.

Similar to its response to those tribulations, Watsonville has tackled its housing affordability crisis by leading the county in affordable housing production, Caput said.

“You should all be proud of that,” Caput said.

Construction is expected to be completed in early 2024.

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


    • they have since made changes to their plan. they needed to do so. it is quite often that builders make adjustments when requested to do so at city council meetings, either by the city council or the public. that is why I go to every city council meeting. try going, Gern. you might learn something.


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