One of the homes in CHISPA’s Rancho San Vicente all-electric housing development in Soledad, where a grand opening was held Oct. 15. (Contributed Photo)

SOLEDAD — Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association (CHISPA) recently celebrated the grand opening of the Rancho San Vicente all-electric housing development in Soledad.

CHISPA, a nonprofit developer and provider of affordable housing based in Salinas, hosted the Oct. 15 ceremony, which featured a tour of one of the four homes and wheelchair-accessible Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Central Coast Community Energy (CCCE) provided funding to support the all-electric construction, removing reliance on natural gas and avoiding the need for natural gas infrastructure to be installed.

“We were pleased that CCCE helped CHISPA finance our all-electric homes,” said Luis Ortegas, construction superintendent for CHISPA’s Rancho San Vicente development. “We have seen that today’s electric ranges and water heaters are much more efficient than even just a few years ago. The response time on hot water to faucet is twice as fast as for gas elements.”

The new housing is the first all-electric project to be completed that participated in one of CCCE’s three New Construction Electrification Programs, which help fund new developments to be built all-electric.

The third iteration of the energy program launched Oct. 5, providing $2,500 for each all-electric affordable housing unit and up to $150,000 for any one local housing development built within Central Coast Community Energy’s service area from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara counties.

Friday’s grand opening also included a heartfelt honoring of CHISPA’s late President and CEO Alfred Diaz-Infante, who died unexpectedly on Aug. 9 at age 60.

“As a public agency committed to supporting the unique needs of our diverse Central Coast region, Central Coast Community Energy is honored to be part of this CHISPA grand opening, and to celebrate the life and contributions of Alfred Diaz-Infante,” said Tom Habashi, CEO of Central Coast Community Energy. “Thanks to Alfred and his team, CHISPA has become a powerful catalyst for more affordable housing.”

Soledad Mayor Anna Velazquez introduces Central Coast Community Energy CEO Tom Habashi to speak at the Oct. 15 grand opening of CHISPA’s Rancho San Vicente all-electric housing development in Soledad. (Contributed Photo)

Since 1980, CHISPA has built and renovated 2,447 single-family homes and apartments for low and moderate-income residents in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. 

According to Habashi, building new affordable housing as all-electric is cheaper and safer to construct, with occupants benefitting from cleaner indoor air and ultra-high efficiency appliances. All-electric housing also reduces local GHG emissions by eliminating natural gas.

“Through collaboration with community-focused partners, CHISPA and Central Coast Community Energy are adding to our region’s affordable housing stock while eliminating gas-related building emissions,” Habashi said. “Clean energy is at the heart of healthy, thriving communities and this partnership is paving the way to a brighter future. On behalf of Central Coast Community Energy, we are grateful to be involved and inspired by Alfred’s legacy.”

CCCE’s three New Construction Electrification Programs combined are estimated to support a total of 1,712 all-electric affordable housing units and 379 all-electric market rate units through a total budget just shy of $5 million.

The grand opening in Soledad marks the first of many new affordable housing developments on the Central Coast, including CHISPA’s upcoming larger all-electric development comprising of 66 affordable housing units in the East Garrison area of unincorporated Monterey County. CCCE’s New Construction Electrification Program has reserved $165,000 in funding for this all-electric affordable development.

“It was encouraging to have local funding for our all-electric construction,” said Dana Cleary, CHISPA director of real estate development. “Now that we know how easy it is to apply and communicate with CCCE, we look forward to replicating this relationship in our next apartment building development.”

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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