Nuns Get Loan for Housing Projects

The Oxnard City Council has agreed to loan a consortium of nuns $135,000 to help them move forward with plans for two housing projects across from Oxnard High School.

Mercy Charities Housing California, a nonprofit developer sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, maintains that the developments would increase low-cost housing needed in Oxnard.

The council has unanimously agreed to the upfront loan but made no commitment to share further in the projects' $12.4-million cost.

Councilman Tom Holden said he supports the project and trusts the sisters, but does not like the idea of forwarding money to developers so early in the planning process.

"We are advancing funds toward a project (and) we have no idea what it will be or what it will look like," he said.

But after being assured by City Manager Tom Frutchey that Oxnard would recoup its money if the plan is not approved, Holden agreed with the rest of the council.

The sisters have built or are currently proposing developments in 10 California counties. In Oxnard, they plan 64 condominiums for poor families and 40 apartments for seniors.

The projects would be at Hobson Way and 5th Street, across from the First Baptist Church of Oxnard. They could be completed by 1996.

The nuns hope the city will spend up to $1 million for each project, according to Sister Diane Clyne of the San Francisco-based developer. The money would come from the city Redevelopment Agency, which by law must spend 20% of its share of the city's property taxes on affordable housing.

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