SANTA ROSA -- Luther Burbank Savings, in collaboration with the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homelessness, has donated a house and two-acre parcel at 2621 Guerneville Road to Community Housing Sonoma County, which will use the property to develop affordable housing for the homeless.The property, which contains a 1,748-square-foot, single-family residence, is valued at $290,000. The house will be put to use by Community Housing, following some initial renovation, as housing for three adults with disabilities. Plans call for development of up to 24 units of supportive housing within two to three years on the remainder of the parcel.
The property was formerly owned by Clem Carinalli, a Santa Rosa financier and developer who defaulted on a loan involving the property held by Luther Burbank Savings. It's the first time a bank-owned property has been donated solely for the purpose of housing the homeless in Sonoma County, officials involved with the deal said.
“This donation by a bank of a home and property to be used for permanent housing for people who’ve lost their homes is absolutely groundbreaking,” said Georgia Berland, executive officer of the Task Force for the Homeless, the organization that helped facilitate the donation process. “To my knowledge, this hasn’t happened before in Sonoma County. Luther Burbank Savings’ leadership and generosity will change lives.”
A clear need to address the homelessness situation in Sonoma County spurred the bank to embark on the donation, said John Biggs, president and CEO of Luther Burbank Savings.
“When we looked for additional ways to give back to the community, the dramatic increase in the number of people without housing spoke very clearly to us about a glaring need,” Mr. Biggs said. “We are proud to donate this property in the hope that we can make a difference in the lives of homeless individuals.”
Homelessness has increased 40 percent in Sonoma County since 2009, a problem exacerbated by the lack of available permanent affordable housing in the community, according to Ms. Berland. More than 12,500 individuals are expected to experience homelessness this year, and 48 percent have disabilities, which makes finding accessible homes even more challenging, she said.
The collapse of the residential real estate market in 2008 and subsequent foreclosure crisis had a significant impact on the homelessness in the county, said Paula Cook, executive director of Community Housing Sonoma County,a nonprofit that partners in the development of permanent supportive housing solutions.
“We are all aware of the significant negative effects that the foreclosure crisis has had on our community,” Ms. Cook said. “Sometimes, however, there is some good news to share, and this is one of those instances. Luther Burbank Savings’ donation of the Guerneville Road property will provide Community Housing with a wonderful opportunity to provide affordable housing to people living with disabilities who have been struggling with homelessness.”
Ms. Berland of the Task Force for Homelessness said she hoped other financial institutions would consider similar efforts.
“It clearly provides a model for communities like ours across the nation with record numbers of both vacant homes and homeless people," Ms. Berland said. "This remarkable donation by Luther Burbank Savings demonstrates that effective corporate leadership, along with community collaboration, can play a vital role in getting people back into permanent homes.”
“Finding solutions for the homeless is a joint effort that must be undertaken by business, the community and government, and we consider it an honor to do our part in this monumental task,” said Victor Trione, chairman of the board and founder of Luther Burbank Savings.