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Grass Valley Develops Program for Workforce Housing

Case Story

The City of Grass Valley, like many other communities, has a shortage of affordable or workforce housing. This community’s workforce includes teachers, police officers and nurses. These people work in Grass Valley but are unable to buy a home in Grass Valley.

Program Description

The lack of affordable housing led the city to create a “Workforce Housing Design Program” to address the issue of affordable housing for the working individuals and families of Grass Valley. The program would guide the city, developers and home builders on how to construct and maintain “owner occupant” or “workforce” affordable housing within the community.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Evaluate architectural styles of existing housing in Grass Valley
  • Conduct an infill survey of vacant and/or underutilized parcels
  • Prepare preliminary architectural plans and cost estimates of affordable prototypes
  • Identify recommendations for revisions to the City’s regulations and mechanisms for maintaining affordability
  • Develop options for incentives to encourage development of affordable prototypes
  • “Workforce housing,” for Grass Valley, is housing that is generally a smaller single-family detached unit or “cottage” style residence purchased by an individual or family whose income falls within the low- to moderate- income range for Nevada County.


Through a series of public workshops and community comments, the program was adopted by city council in October 2004. This created a need to develop a list of priority programs from the implementation matrix within the plan to ensure the document would be a “working” document. The 3-year work program identifies the work tasks, the responsible party and the process to complete each task.

Significant work tasks listed in the 3-year implementation program include:

  1. Preparation of an infill strategy
  2. Preparing prototypical house plans for a workforce housing unit
  3. Establishing a support committee of local leaders who can provide community resources
  4. Reducing city street and parking standards for workforce housing projects.

The 3-year implementation program began in fiscal year 2005-06 and enabled the city to better provide a variety of housing options for Grass Valley residents.

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