Sonora housing plan approved

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By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

A plan to provide affordable housing in Sonora through 2009 is expected to be certified by the state after the city's Planning Commission approved some minor changes last night.

The City of Sonora 2001-2009 Housing Element, part of the city's general plan, explains how the city will accommodate population growth, and addresses everything from which age groups will grow the fastest to vacancy rates to special-needs housing for farm workers, the disabled and the homeless, among others.

The completion and state approval of the report will set Sonora up for more funding for projects like its homebuyers' assistance program, helping low-income families purchase houses.

The city submitted the element to the state for approval late last year, and it was sent back for minor revisions, which have now been made. After final approval, the city will get a letter of certification from the state.

According to the report, 4,610 people lived in Sonora during 2003.

The typical family of four earned $47,800 and lived in a rented single-family structure built more than 40 years ago.

The housing plan calls for 405 new residential units to fill the city's housing needs into the next decade.

Of those, 122 will need to house low- and very low-income families, who have a median yearly income of between $24,000 and $38,000.

The city's plan to increase affordable housing in Sonora includes passing an ordinance allowing small, second residential units on some properties and designating almost 18 acres of vacant land for high-density residential construction.

The City Council can also explore annexing property adjacent to existing city limits to provide more land for affordable housing.

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