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Napa, where the post fire residential vacancy rate dropped to near zero and now is just about 2 percent, saw the ground breaking April 26 for 50 new, affordable multifamily Stoddard West apartment units by developer Burbank Housing in south Napa next to the Peter A. and Vernice H. Gasser Foundation’s offices at 433 Soscol Ave.

According to Burbank Housing CEO Larry Florin, the $24 million project is the first affordable housing project to break ground since the North Bay fires, based on a survey of several regional housing authorities. Two other affordable housing projects are on the boards for the Napa area.

“One year ago last March, I received a call from the Gasser Foundation saying they had a site near by and wanted to build an affordable housing development,” Florin said. “Given the high demand for affordable housing, the speed of progress on this project is a tribute to the leadership of Napa Mayor Jill Techel, who helped obtain the approval of the Napa City Council, the Napa County Board of Supervisors and local planning and building staffs in record time. It is also the first affordable housing project in Napa County to receive a 9 percent federal tax credit.”

Prior to the fires, housing in Napa County had only a 2 percent vacancy rate. That fell to nearly 0 percent after the October wildfires, but has since rebounded to its prior level. With over 7,000 homes lost in the region as the result of the October wildfires, hundreds of low-income families working service and agriculture jobs lost their rental housing and income as a result.

Florin said that the Napa Valley Housing Authority estimated that its waiting list for affordable units has reached 10,000. At the same time, Napa Valley Community Housing reported that some 3,000 were on its waiting list.

To help close the financing gap resulting from the sudden rise in building costs after the October fires, funding for this project was achieved with contributions from the Tipping Point Relief Fund, the Gasser Foundation, Napa Valley Vintners, the Trinchero family as well as other local donors. Wells Fargo Bank is the construction lender and equity partner for this project.

The Stoddard West development received $1.5 million from the Tipping Point Relief Fund.

“This is a prime example of the work made possible by the $33 million raised by Tipping Point to support fire relief using proceeds from two sold-out “Band Together” Bay Area concerts, as well as from a responsive team of high-profile corporate sponsors and an influx of private donations,” said Karina Moreno, Tipping Point Community chief of staff and lead for the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund (www.tippingpoint.org/relief).

She said Tipping point has been honored to help facilitate North Bay community foundations, service providers and government partners

The Stoddard West project, scheduled to be completed by 2019, will offer multifamily housing below market rental rates to families earning at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income. It will have a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with eight of the units accepting Housing Choice vouchers.

On April 11, Partnership Health Plan of California announced that it was awarding a $1 million grant to the Gasser Foundation to help rehabilitate Heritage House that Gasser bought in 2016.

Florin said Burbank Housing is also in preliminary discussions with lenders about building affordable, auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) in the North Bay from 400 to 600 square feet each. These homes could initially be built as temporary housing to accommodate individuals displaced from the fires. After being vacated, these homes could be placed on existing lots to accommodate lower income renters who live or work in the community.

The two additional Burbank Housing affordable housing developments are on the drawing board for Napa. Through collaborative partnerships with the city and County of Napa, Burbank Housing will be offering 34 new affordable homes for sale to first time homebuyers at Redwood Grove, located at 2033 Redwood Road. Construction is expected to start this fall.

These homes will be new construction, single-family duet style attached homes with one-car garages. The homes will be restricted to households earning at or below 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Qualifications will be determined by household size. For Napa County, 120 percent AMI for a household size of four is currently $109,200.

The second project is a 77-unit apartment complex at 3700 Valle Verde Drive, former home of the Sunrise assisted living facility. This project has two components. One is the rehabilitation of Heritage House, with 66 single room occupancy studio units of permanent supportive housing for Napa’s most vulnerable homeless residents. The second component will involve the construction of 24 affordable multifamily apartments. The current estimated completion date for this project is late 2020.