24-unit inclusionary housing development expected to be finished in spring
Construction on Cloverdale’s Cherry Creek Village housing project is going better than expected, with the project currently ahead of schedule. The project includes 24 inclusionary housing units at varying levels of affordability.
“Tonight’s efforts are a culmination of nearly 10 years of work that the council and staff have entertained in terms of preparing the Cherry Creek Village site for development. It’s really exciting to see the progress that’s been made on the construction of the project,” City Manager David Kelley said during a Nov. 10 Cloverdale City Council meeting.
The Cherry Creek Village project renovates and expands a housing site operated by Cloverdale nonprofit Wallace House.
“It’s been a smooth project and we’re in fact ahead of schedule,” said Colleen Halbohm, executive director of Wallace House. “Originally we had a completion date of August 2022 and we’re looking at completing in the spring, which is quite an accomplishment given the COVID supply chain issues.”
Supply chain issues did impact the cost of the project, Halbohm said, with lumber costing $200,000 more than planned. Halbohm said that the main project currently left is framing out the property’s common building, noting that roofs are expected to be on in December.
Details of Cherry Creek Village
The project, approved by the planning commission in October 2019, will include 24 units, three of which were designated as extremely low-income housing, available to households earning no more than 30% of area median income (AMI); 12 were designated for households earning no more than 40% AMI; eight units for households earning no more than 50% AMI; with one unit for an on-site manager. The affordability is restricted for a 55-year period, per the agreement the city has with Kingdom Development, the administrative general partner that’s working with Wallace House.
The housing project is “a traditional affordable housing project” in a lot of regards, Kelley said, noting that prior council discussion ruled out using the property for something like a navigation center.
“This isn’t an emergency shelter, it’s not a homeless shelter — it really is an affordable housing project — but it’s targeting the most needed residents in our community,” Kelley said.
The Cherry Creek housing site was purchased in 2007 by the city and the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County. The property was purchased to be used specifically for low-to-moderate-income housing. The City of Cloverdale took over full ownership of the property when the land trust exited the deal in 2009 as a result of the Great Recession.
The city then entered into an agreement with the Cloverdale Community Outreach Committee (also known as Wallace House) to operate an affordable housing program on the site. The program has been operating since then. In 2019, the city council voted to sole-source the development and management of the property to Wallace House.
“Before, it was a motel. We had nine studios and a three-bedroom house,” Halbohm said. “We couldn’t accommodate families — that was a big challenge for us. We do get quite a few single parents who are with their children and we just didn’t have any place to put them.”
“When we planned this development we wanted to make sure we had a bigger mix for families, and that’s, in fact, what we’ve done,” Halbohm continued, noting that 80% of the units are now larger.
According to Halbohm, the project includes eight three-bedroom units, eight two-bedroom units and nine one-bedroom units. All of the units, with the exception of the three-bedroom house that was part of the original property, will be in four detached two-story buildings.
With this mix of units, Halbohm said they’re expecting that they’ll be helping provide housing to more larger families. Units on the bottom halves of the two-story buildings as well as gathering spaces, offices and laundry facilities will all be ADA-compliant.
Halbohm said that the development has project-based vouchers, meaning that anyone coming into Cherry Creek Village who is low income “will have the benefit of having to pay no more than 30% of their income for rent, which is quite good for the families that are possibly struggling in other areas.”
As part of its plan to offer supportive services to the people living at Cherry Creek, Halbohm said that Wallace House will provide housing retention counseling, employment coaching, money management training, substance abuse recovery and treatment, mental health recovery and treatment and a host of other services through the use of case managers.
“We can’t require that people accept services, but we are going to make sure that people know they’re available,” she said.
What Cherry Creek is, and what it isn’t
Amid community talk that the project has changed since it was approved, Councilmember Gus Wolter said that he wanted an update on the project presented to the council.
“I think some of the confusion stems from the fact that Wallace House was an overnight shelter for many years and about five or six years ago when things changed in the homeless population we were helping, we really realized that we weren’t being effective. We changed our model and the board decided we would focus more on people who were willing to accept the help that we had to offer,” Halbohm said. “We found that that was typically people who were coming out of treatment who would otherwise be homeless.”
“The last two women who came with children, they had graduated from treatment, they would otherwise be homeless,” she continued. “They had gotten the custody of their children back and they would have lost custody of their children, the reunification process would have been completely fractured and the hopelessness that comes along with that … that’s what we decided we needed to be focused on and that’s what we do.”
Halbohm said that people who come to Cherry Creek can be people experiencing homelessness, but they also be those who are at risk of becoming homeless or who could be “precariously housed,” either couch surfing or living in unstable housing.
She said residents aren’t restricted when it comes to how long they can live at Cherry Creek.
In response to a question from Vice Mayor Todd Lands about what sort of security measures will be in place at Cherry Creek Village, Halbohm said the property will have 24-hour on-site property management, cameras and a security system.
“I have no problem calling the police if some illegal activity is happening on any of the properties that we manage, and I think people know that,” she said. “We try to get out in front of the problem if we recognize it earlier, and there are ways to see if people are going off the rails earlier on in the process. Having all of the help that we’re going to have now is going to make it that much easier.”
Halbohm said they won’t be allowing anyone who has any violent felonies since they house a lot of children and people who have experienced past trauma.
During public comment, community member Angela Cordova asked for clarity regarding who will be able to live at Cherry Creek Village. Specifically, she asked Halbohm if Cloverdale residents will take precedence over people from outside of the city, if people who live there need to be referred or if they can walk in and if there are any exceptions when it comes to background checks (specifically when it comes to non-violent crimes and the amount of time since a conviction).
In response, Halbohm said that it depends on when they received the conviction and how long ago it was, but that there’s an appeal process if someone is denied housing. She said that the property management company will be approving people for housing based on varying layers of guidelines associated with where Wallace House is receiving funding for its housing — the funding agreement with the city stipulates a priority given to Cloverdale residents, but Halbohm said she isn’t sure where that stipulation sits in the hierarchy that the property management company has to follow.
A waitlist for housing will be announced once the project is closer to completion, likely around February, Halbohm said. From there, the waitlist would be prioritized on a first-come-first-served basis, depending on the prioritization that’s also required by different funding sources. However, people who lived at Cherry Creek and were relocated for construction will be given priority.