New office offers community hub for residents
Residents of Park Village Housing now have an onsite case manager and a community space with Internet access within walking distance from their homes.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, the Park Village “office warming” celebration took place to showcase the new addition to the site. The 44-foot-long, ADA-compliant construction trailer will serve not only as an office, but also as a social hub with computers, tables and chairs, a printer and toys.
Nathan Burson, a Park Village resident, brought his two children to the opening. As the youngsters played on toys outside the office, Burson explained how the new space and onsite staff person has been beneficial for his family.
“Karla (Fittipaldi) is really good with the kids,” he said. “They are here a lot, and they have been doing plays.”
Fittipaldi is the full-time onsite case manager for the Park Village Housing Project. The project is a public-private partnership between the City of Sebastopol and West County Community Services (WCCS) that offers affordable housing for low-income residents and a solution to house local unsheltered residents.
The 2016 “Homeless Point in Time Census and Survey” identified 39 homeless people in Sebastopol; in 2018 the number jumped to 69. Park Village Housing focuses on helping those local individuals find housing.
Fittipaldi said she considers herself a detective of sorts.
“I am the point person when anybody who lives in the village needs a resource,” she said. “We have a variety of age groups from parents with young children to seniors, so there is a whole array of needs.”
Fittipaldi mainly focuses on finding resources for the eight families who were homeless prior to moving in, as well as offering supportive services to 18 low-income, long-term residents.
Before the office opened, Fittipaldi said she was working out of a much more minimalist space inside a recreational vehicle.
“We had a card table and a laptop,” she said. “This is quite the palace.”
WCCS also employs a full-time, onsite resident manager. The employee lives on the property and serves all 85 residents.
WCCS began managing Park Village in 2017. At that time the mobile home and apartment complex housed 65 residents in 18 living spaces. Eight mobile home pads and four apartments were vacant.
Since the project began, WCCS has utilized the eight empty pads by connecting RVs with sewer, water and electricity to house 19 previously homeless citizens. Five of those residents have successfully cycled out of the program into more independent living situations.
The next steps for WCCS are to rehabilitate the vacant apartments and house four to eight individuals. Two more RV pads are to be built this year for two additional families or individuals.
The City of Sebastopol financially supports the project each year. For the 2018-2019 year, the city supplied $95,000 in funding to Park Village Housing, which included the salaries of the case manager and resident manager. Sebastopol City Council is also seeking homeless grant assistance for the project.