Housing project for low-income veterans expected to break ground July 24
On July 9, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to approve $1.2 million in county funds to help finalize Windsor’s Veteran’s Village project. The 60-unit housing development for low-income veterans is expected to break ground July 24.
The $1.2 million granted through the Sonoma County Community Development Commission is on top of a previously approved county grant of $750,000. The program is also being supplemented by $500,000 from Home Depot and $500,000 from the town’s own funds collected as in-lieu fees on other projects.
In November 2018, Windsor Veterans Village, sponsored by Santa Rosa-based Veterans Resource Centers of America (“VRC”) and Urban Housing Communities LLC (“UHC”), received approval for $9.9 million in state funding under the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act.
In addition, there is a so-called permanent loan for $8.3 million and low income tax credits of nearly $13 million.
The total cost for the project is just under $35 million, with a per unit price of around $577,000.
According to the staff report, the out-of-cycle award became necessary to fill a development budget gap resulting from construction cost increases. If they were not able to close the gap with this award, the project risked losing other key funding awards, including $12.8 million in Federal 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), and $9.9 million in State Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) funds.
“The commission was recently informed by (the) developers for the Windsor Veterans Village project, that construction cost increases based on final bids from general contractors have created a budget gap of $2.5 million that will jeopardize the project if action is not taken,” reads the board of supervisors staff report. “The construction cost increases are beyond the normal market conditions the entire state of California is experiencing — there have been significant cost increases specific to our geographic area. Rebuilding efforts due to the devastating fires have caused an even higher than normal increase in local construction costs ... this has resulted in a final funding gap of $1.2 million.”
The project will provide 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments in six residential buildings, ranging in size from 700 to 850 square feet, as well as a community room, a service center and outdoor recreation space. Services offered will include employment and job training, behavioral health treatment, intensive case management, daily living classes, family reunification and peer support.
The housing complex will be built on Oak Park Lane, on a wooded parcel only four miles from the regional VA clinic and within walking distance of the town center, where veteran residents can access additional services as well as community events and activities that will add to their overall experience and quality of life. Veterans and their families will also have access to onsite services provided by VRC, the VA and other agencies.
The supervisors approved the measure by a vote of 5-0.
“This money allows the Windsor Veterans Village to fill a gap in funding that will deliver 60 desperately needed affordable homes for veterans in Sonoma County,” said Supervisor James Gore following the vote. “This project might be located in the north county but make no mistake it represents a critical need county-wide.”
The grant has allowed the final funding for the project to be secured, and a few final amendments to the project will be up for vote at the next Windsor Town Council meeting on July 17 (after press time). Those amendments include deferring the payment of developer impact fees until a certificate of occupancy has been issued and a request to have those impact fees levied at 2018-19 levels, rather than 2019-20 levels. The difference in the fees is approximately $42,000. The total impact fees are just under $2 million.
The staff report suggests the council approve these amendments, as the money from the county does not cover all the cost increases.
“I’m so proud of Windsor for coming together to create a collaborative project between public and private entities,” said Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli. “This will help some of the most deserving members of our town continue to call Windsor home.”