More than 400 orange-clad Home Depot employees laid sod, planted succulents and painted walls in 21 Coachella homes Wednesday as part of a volunteer partnership with a local nonprofit.
The single-family houses in Coachella’s Bellissima subdivision have so far been built by the families that will move into them. The homes are the newest of more than 800 that the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition has built in city in the last three decades.
But they could be among the last.
Coachella grew from around 23,000 people at the 2000 U.S. census to approximately 41,000 in 2010. That population moves the city out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development department’s “rural” category — meaning residents there no longer qualify for the low-interest USDA loans that have helped hundreds buy their houses.
The USDA limits access to these loans to people in communities with fewer than 35,000 residents.
“Unfortunately, we have to go with what happens… even though we’d like to continue to serve that community,” said Ron Tackett, director of single-family housing for the USDA’s rural development offices in California. “Barring changes in Congress, (Coachella) has become ineligible.”