Sunday, February 18, 2018

Press Conference Speech on Valentine's Day

Steve's wife's talk at the press conference 2/14/18. I highlighted the part that feels so powerfully simple and instructive, laying out the precious joys of a life without having to be scattered. I don't have a sense of who should get this; can you forward it on, please? Thanks!  Scott


Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Last Chance Village. My name is Michele and I've been a resident of the Last Chance Village since it opened in November. I've been homeless off and on here in Santa Rosa for almost 11 years now. In that time, there hasn't been anything like Last Chance Village.

Before I go any further, let me say this. Just because something went wrong in our lives doesn't mean that we are all dirty, drug addicted, alcoholic, or worthless people. A major bump in the road has prevented us from having all the things that you people still have– does that make us all the things you call us? Do you deserve to feel the way you do about us?

Answer me this: what would you do if you lost everything in life, and you became homeless tomorrow? Anything can happen, at any time. Remember the next time you see a homeless person: that could be you.

Just because we are homeless doesn't mean we are any different than you. We like to do the same things most others do; why are we asked to leave? I don't totally understand why you feel the way you do about the homeless, that we're dirty, or smelly, or always leaving garbage and messes around. That is just wrong and disrespectful. With the many resources the homeless have here in Santa Rosa, there is no reason to be dirty, or smelly, or hungry, or leave garbage around. And for those people who do, I apologize.

Last Chance Village has been a blessing to have. Being homeless is a very hard life. You have to carry your belongings everywhere you go. Trying to find a place to hide it all, and finding a spot to camp isn't easy. If you're not careful, your stuff can get stolen or thrown away. You can also get a ticket for illegal camping or obstructing the sidewalk. And now you can get arrested for having to live on the streets!

Come on! Really? How hard is it to realize that something bad happened in that person's life, and they lost their home? We are human, just like you. We weren't born homeless; we didn't ask to be. Honestly, none of us wanted this to happen– but it has, and we are trying to better ourselves. and work on getting back what we lost.

For me, the Last Chance Village has been where I feel that maybe I can get the start I've needed. I can leave my things here and know that they will still be there when I get back. Knowing that I won't be harassed and woke up by the police and have to pack up and move. I can sit with friends and talk and not get asked to move or leave.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Santa Rosa's Efforts to Build Homeless Permanent Housing


Your email was forwarded to me for response. My answers to your questions are in red.

The 2016-20 Consolidated Plan and Fiscal Year 2017-18 Action Plan reports:

"Of the approximately 62,070 households in 2010, 24% were considered very-low income (this figure also includes the extremely-low income category), 17% low-income, 10% moderate income, and 49% above moderate income (income categories are defined in the Needs Assessment)."

The CAPER reports:

"The City made significant progress in achieving its goals in 2016/2017 by providing funding for a second year for development and construction of a seven‐unit complex for extremely‐low and very‐low income veterans; funding for production of 78 units for extremely‐low and very‐low income residents; and additional preservation funding for 48 units for very low‐ and low‐ income households.”

Where is the seven-unit complex?  Is this the Benton’s Veterans Village referred to one page seven? How do homeless veterans apply for these units?

The seven-unit complex is Benton Veterans Village at 1055 Benton Street. Homeless veterans work with the Veterans Administration to obtain residency in one of the units.  Potential residents need to be eligible for VA medical.  The VA will maintain the waiting list, referring most vulnerable first. Then the City’s Section 8 staff will determine voucher eligibility and the VA will continue case management all through housing search and placement.

Where are the 78 units being produced?  How far into the process of being produced are they?  What remains to be done to complete them?

Crossroads, located at 1990 and 2030 Burbank Avenue, is the 78-unit project. The planned income mix is 24 units for 30% AMI (extremely low), 32 units for 50% AMI (very low) and 22 units for 60% AMI (between very low and low).  April 15 is the target date to start move-ins, and the project is expected to be 100% leased up by July. The project is currently 85% complete with some interior work, some flatwork for interior sidewalks, patio for the community building/play area, paving of a section of road east of the site, and connections to gas service in the street still to be completed.

Where are the 48 units being preserved?  Is this the Papago Court Apartments referred to on page seven?  What preservation costs were funded?      Are any of the residents of the apartments previously homeless?

Papago Court is the 48-unit project being preserved. The rehabilitation work includes under slab sewer/plumbing improvements, kitchen cabinet and countertop replacement, repair and replacement of landscaping where sewer work occurred, and replacement of some bathrooms. There are approximately 15 residents of Papago Court who were previously homeless.

The CAPER reports:

"The Council adopted a Housing Action Plan in June, 2016, and, in November 2016 directed staff to issue a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $3 million in General Fund money to be used for housing development.  The City received eight applications for various affordable housing projects. The City Council chose to provide funding for four projects, leveraging $3 million to produce 10 homeownership units for low‐ and moderate‐income households, 19 market rate homeownership units, and 27 affordable rental units for extremely low‐ and low‐income households.”

Where are the 27 affordable rental units being built?  How far along are they in the process of development?  What remains to be done to complete them?  How can homeless residents apply for these rental units? 

Project Name
Total Units
Extremely Low Income
Very Low Income
Low Income
Moderate Income
Market Rate
Term of Affordability
Funding Awarded
Acacia Village Infrastructure Improvements (Homeownership) 746 Acacia Lane
30 Years
Benton Veterans Village* (Supportive Rental Housing) 1055 Benton Street
55 Years
Harris Place (Homeownership)
2863 W. Steele Lane
30 Years
Stonehouse* (Supportive Rental Housing)
3331 Sonoma Highway
30 Years

Acacia Village purchases will be handled by the developer, Campus Properties, LLC; homeless veterans interested in Benton Veterans Village, as previously mentioned, will be referred through their VA caseworker. The Harris Place project is being developed by Habitat for Humanity, who is handling applications to purchase these homes, and Stonehouse Supportive Housing is a supportive aftercare living environment for extremely low-income women who have graduated from the Athena treatment/recovery program.

The CAPER Reports:

"The City strives to direct the majority of its available resources to the development of new, affordable rental units. When prioritizing the income levels to be assisted by the new housing units, the City uses the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) as a gauge. Per the City’s 2016 Housing Action Plan, which was based on the RHNA for 2014 – 2022, the total projected housing need is 4,662 units (or 548 average annual need) broken down by income category as follows:  473 extremely low (30% AMI), 474 very low (50% AMI), 581 low (80% AMI), 759 moderate (120% AMI), and 2,375 above moderate. Pursuant to the ABAG goals, as of December, 2016, the City has 43 extremely low‐income, 96 very low‐income, and 203 low‐income housing units under development, for a total of 342 affordable units. The City also has 339 moderate or above‐moderate units under development, for a total of 681 units under development.”

Where are the 43 extremely low income units under development?
Where are the 96 very low income units under development?

The number of rental units reported as “under development” in December 2016 included the Lantana project located at 2975 Dutton Meadow. This project converted from 36 EL and 58 VL rental units to 48 ownership units for low- and moderate-income households because the original project relied upon state Multifamily Housing Program (MHP) funding which became oversubscribed and was exhausted as well as funds from the former Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency which was dissolved in 2012.  The numbers reflected above will now be 7 EL units at Benton Veterans Village, 38 VL at Crossroads.

The CAPER reports:

"The City was not able to support extremely low‐, low‐ or moderate‐income ownership units because of a lack of funding. While homeowner housing is part of the City’s Consolidated Plan and the Housing Action Plan, the City has no financial resources available and therefore does not have a goal for the number of units completed. The City is always looking for funding opportunities for this goal. In addition, CDBG public services funds were used to help 2,590 homeless residents access services through the Family Support Center (IDIS Activity #534) and the Homeless Services Center (IDIS Activity #535). The Family Support Center, a homeless shelter, provided meals, medical care, housing assistance, workshops, and youth activities to 472 extremely low‐income clients, 18 very low‐income clients, and two low‐income clients (total 492). The Homeless Services Center, a drop‐in day center, served 2,023 extremely low‐ income, 57 very low‐income, 15 low‐income, three median income, and no moderate‐income clients (total 2,098).  Family income is not a factor for determining service eligibility.”

Based on your findings that 99% of those served by the City’s Family Support Center and Homeless Services Center fall into the two lowest income categories, can you explain why only 20 percent of the housing under development by your department is focused on these income levels? 

The Department of Housing & Community Services provides funding to developers and nonprofits to build affordable housing but does not develop or build units itself. The Housing Authority has a limited amount of financial resources available to assist projects.  Projects are initiated by their proponents which includes identifying and applying for all necessary funding for construction and permanent financing.  In order to make projects financially viable, bring them to construction in the shortest amount of time, and meet the various requirements of the funding sources, fewer extremely low- income units are produced.   

The CAPER reports:

"One of the greatest barriers to preventing and ending homelessness in Santa Rosa is the shortage of affordable housing and the low vacancy rate for rental units throughout Sonoma County. In 2016/2017, the City committed $2,129,287 for the production or preservation of 55 units. The City has prioritized its CDBG and HOME funds as well as local resources for affordable housing purposes.”

Where are the 55 units being preserved with $2,120,287?  Are any of the residents previously homeless?

These are the 48 units at Papago and 7 at Benton, representing funding commitments of $833,641 for Benton and $1,295,646 for Papago Court. As I mentioned before, the 7 units at Benton are for homeless veterans.  There are approximately 15 residents of Papago Court who were previously homeless.

The CAPER reports:

"As noted previously in this Report, the City approved a Housing Action Plan in June, 2016, that included the following objectives that seek to address the barriers to housing development: 
  • Build 5,000 housing units in the current Housing Element Cycle, through 2023, consistent with General Plan Housing Element Quantified Objectives (ABAG’s RHNA); 
  • Achieve construction of 2,500 affordable housing units that include 30% of the total (approximately 1,500 units) for lower‐income households and 20% of the total (approximately 1,000 units) for moderate income households. The City plans to meet this goal through encouraging inclusionary affordable units within for‐sale market rate housing projects; supporting innovative affordability by design; providing regulatory incentives and financial subsidies for affordable housing projects; and continuing collaboration with affordable housing developers; 
  • Preserve, to the greatest extent possible, the 4,000 existing affordable housing units; 
  • Continue to focus on achieving 1,000 housing units ready for building permit issuance by prioritizing and expediting housing projects currently pending review by planning, engineering, and building; 
  • Facilitate and revitalize the 2,000 housing units available through previously entitled housing projects that have not yet been built by soliciting time extensions and refinements that may be required to implement the respective planning approvals, subdivision maps, and other regulatory requirements; 
  • Identify which pending housing projects and development opportunity sites are subject to federal and state critical habitat and wetland regulations that may render these lands undevelopable and consider amendments to the City’s General Plan to adjust for lost development capacity. 
  • The Housing Action Plan suggests five programs, each with several objectives that offer a variety of creative solutions to address barriers to affordable housing, including, but not limited to: 
    • Seeking inclusionary units in for‐sale housing projects; 
    • Offering regulatory and financial incentives;
    • Amending the local density bonus ordinance;  
    • Modifying the definition of “qualifying units” in the Growth Management Ordinance;
    • Consideration of single room occupancy standards; 
    • Seeking affordable units in pending public land disposition projects; 
    • Identifying publicly owned land parcels suitable for housing production; 
    • Revising policies and procedures for vacation of public right‐of‐way to enhance development potential of adjoining private development sites; 
    • Initiating zoning and other changes intended to maximize housing production potential on opportunity sites;
    • Continuing implementation of permit streamlining for planning entitlements;
    • Expanding affordable housing subsidies and partnerships.”

Why aren’t any of the proposed 5,000 units in the Housing Element Cycle, or 2,500 affordable housing units, being targeted to very low or extremely low income levels? 
The proposed units are in the Housing Action Plan, not the Housing Element; the Housing Action Plan is not a regulatory document.  Housing production goals are set by ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).  The City’s RHNA goal for 2015 – 2023 is 4,662 units, which includes 947 very low-, 581 low-, 759 moderate-, and 2,375 above moderate-income units. ABAG issues updates on how cities are progressing but does not hold jurisdictions to an annual achievement. The Department of Housing & Community Services provides funding to developers and nonprofits to build affordable housing but does not develop or build units itself. The Housing Authority has a limited amount of financial resources available to assist projects.  Projects are initiated by their proponents which includes identifying and applying for all necessary funding for construction and permanent financing.  To make projects financially viable, bring them to construction in the shortest amount of time, and meet the various requirements of the funding sources, fewer extremely low- income units are produced.   

Can you identify what any of the remaining actions cited above will do to benefit residents in these two lower income categories?  
When new market rate and affordable units are produced the City’s housing stock increases, providing more housing options and allowing for adjustments to the market.

Nancy Manchester | Program Specialist II
Housing & Community Services | 90 Santa Rosa Ave. | Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Tel. (707) 543-4339 | Fax (707) 543-3353 |


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Highly Effective Homeless Housing Programs


I'm inaugurating the first Highly Effective Homeless Housing Programs Award.

Eligible programs must include clients who are homeless at the initiation of services.

Highest points will be awarded to agencies and programs which can demonstrate rapid client transition to unsubsidized housing for at least a year duration at the lowest cost.

Significant points will be awarded to agencies and programs which can demonstrate successful outcomes by clients in their ability to enter into subsidized housing.