Kashia Band of Pomo Indians get approval for affordable housing project, tribal headquarters in Windsor

The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria has won approval to build a 54-unit affordable housing project in Windsor that will also serve as its tribal headquarters.

Last month, the town’s planning commission unanimously endorsed the planned project at 10221 Old Redwood Highway, meaning the Sonoma County tribe has all necessary approvals to move forward.

The garden-style apartments at the five-building complex will be offered to low-income tribal households.

“It gives them a sense of a hope, with the high home prices in the area, that something is coming,” said Raymond McQuillen, housing director with the tribe. “The Santa Rosa area has the greatest concentration of tribal members, and we don’t having any housing (in the area). That’s the main purpose of the development.”

The tribe bought the 2.5-acre property in north Windsor in 2018 for an undisclosed amount.

While the project is not on tribal land, it will include office space to serve as the center of the Kashia’s government operations. The complex will also have a public gallery and community space showcasing Kashia artwork, history and culture.

“It gives the tribe a base and a headquarters, and gives the community and our neighbors in Windsor an opportunity to see the tribe can be good neighbors and fit into their community,” McQuillen said.

The Kashia band has around 1,100 members, most of whom live in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties. The tribe’s ancestral home is the Sonoma Coast area around Fort Ross. It has a 500-acre reservation in the northern part of the county 4 miles east of the coast. Its current headquarters is in Santa Rosa.

To build the project, the tribe has partnered with nonprofit developer Burbank Housing in Santa Rosa.

“This project has all of its entitlements, so our next steps are to secure financing,” said Jocelyn Lin, assistant director of development with Burbank.

The tribe plans to apply for federal low-income tax credits as well as state housing grants to fund the complex. It has already received federal grants specifically for tribal housing.

Lin declined to provide a cost for the project since it’s still early in the development. She expects the financing process to take about a year and construction another 18 months.

As an affordable housing project, the complex automatically received design and zoning allowances under state law. That includes a reduction in the amount of parking spaces required at the site from 104 to 89 spaces.

In September, the Kashia received a $2.7 million state grant to buy and convert the 20-unit Economy Inn near downtown Santa Rosa into housing for its homeless tribal members. Lin said that project should be open in February.

During the public comment portion of the Windsor planning commission meeting last month, Mayor Sam Salmon welcomed the tribe to the town.

“I can speak to how important I believe it is to have the Kashias come to our community,” Salmon. “How much they can bring in terms of culture and knowledge. And in turn what we can provide them in terms of a safe community with good schools.”

You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian

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