By VERNON ROBISON
A group of about 40 people braved a chilly wind on Thursday morning, November 3, to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for Hafen Village, an affordable housing project set to begin construction on Hafen Lane in Mesquite.
With a backdrop of heavy equipment for earth-moving, a lineup of local, state and federal dignitaries spoke to the small crowd about how the new project would bring the city a step closer to housing affordability.
“It has been a long time coming and sometimes I actually doubted it would ever happen,” said Mesquite Mayor Al Litman. “But it has and Mesquite is ready for it. We welcome this development that will help so many people.”
The Hafen Village project is being coordinated by the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA). The project will include 96 units for working families at, or below, area median income. The units will be attractive apartments with patios and balconies. The complex will feature both indoor and outdoor amenities including a clubhouse, leasing office, playground, dog park and barbecue area.
Ceremonially breaking ground last week for the new Hafen Village affordable housing development in Mesquite were (l to r): NRHA Board Vice Chair Roger Mancebo, City Councilman George Gault, B&H Construction Project Manager Mike Wichmann, NRHA Community Development Director Beth Dunning, NRHA Executive Director Bill Brewer, Mesquite Mayor Al Litman, Nevada Affordable Housing Advocate Nia Germa and Hector Lizaola, staffer from the office of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. PHOTO BY VERNON ROBISON/The Progress
The project is expected to begin construction immediately and to reach conclusion in mid- to late-2024.
“This project is designed to complement an already wonderful neighborhood,” said Katie Coleman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for NRHA.
Coleman stood in at the pulpit for NRHA executive director Bill Brewer who was in attendance at the event but was unable to speak due to a case of laryngitis.
The five acre site for the project is located on Hafen Lane, just west of the Mesquite Veterans Center and the First Baptist Church building.
Opening the groundbreaking ceremony was an invocation by Pastor Bill Stevenson of the First Baptist Church. In a brief address before his prayer, Stevenson expressed gratitude for the Hafen Village housing project. He related the story of the negotiations that the church had done last year to procure the Hafen Lane site from the City of Mesquite.
“We were excited at that time that God was going to allow us to have this building,” Stephenson said. “But we didn’t realize that He would not only give us a building but He would also give us a neighbor with 95 apartment units. And we said, ‘Boy, He is showing off now.’”
Coleman expressed appreciation to Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak for supporting affordable housing initiatives in the state. She also recognized the Nevada Congressional delegation in helping to procure funding for housing in the state.
Several representatives from that delegation were present at the groundbreaking. These included Hector Lizaola from Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s office, Mahalia Jaramillo of Senator Jacky Rosen’s staff and Mahogany Feaster of Congressman Steven Horsford’s office. Each of these presented a Congressional Certificate of Commendation to the NRHA for its work on the project.
Also in attendance to give some comments was Nia Germa, the Affodable Housing Advocate with Nevada Housing Division.
In his remarks, Mayor Litman said that the project had been long-awaited by community members.
“For a number of years, the city council questioned why we were giving our bond allocation to the Nevada Rural Housing Authority and then receiving nothing in return,” Litman said. “We wonderred why Mesquite kept being left out. Well, not any longer.”
Litman explained that the NHRA works with a consortium of public, private and community partners to fund and provide affordable housing for rural Nevada areas. He added that the Hafen Village project had come into being through a persistent team effort between NHRA and city leaders. Litman specifically named City Councilman George Gault, who had worked hard on bringing the project, and Bill Brewer for his leadership at NRHA.
“With Bill, his team and George Gault working together over these many months, this project has finally come together to make this happen,” Litman said.
Coleman gave some closing remarks thanking the crowd for attending. “I can’t thank you enough for being here today, despite the chilly weather,” she said. “It is all worth it because rural housing is worth it. Our mission is worth it. And it doesn’t happen without the community.”
About a dozen people were asked to join in ceremonially turning over the first shovels full of dirt on the project. These ranged from city officials to construction managers, NRHA representatives and Congressional staffers present.
See also: https://nvhousingsearch.org/press/articles/New-Hafen-Villiage-Affordable-Apartments-Rural-Mesquite-Nevada.html
For more photos: https://nvrural.org/hafen-village-apartments-progress-in-mesquite-nev/