December 2012 Newsletter

Community Tour: Camden Co-Op

In an ongoing series of tours of Partner Properties, Housing Choices Coalition will provide a tour of Camden Co-Op on January 10, 2013.


Camden Co-Op is located near the intersection of Camden Ave and Blossom Hill.  We will email you with the street address after you have registered. Camden includes 5 private bedrooms of which are designated for rent to people with developmental disabilities. The property has a community room with kitchen, on-site laundry, barbecue and game room. This property is close to public transportation and neighborhood parks. 

Guests will have the opportunity to talk to current residents about what it is like to live at Camden Co-Op and tour will start promptly at 3 pm. There is street parking available on Camden Ave. 

 Click on the link below to register or RSVP.

Going All Out for Schapiro Knolls 

Named after a beloved Santa Cruz County housing advocate, Erik Schapiro, Schapiro Knolls is an 88-unit apartment complex under construction in Watsonville.  When it opens in 2013, the complex will provide 22 one-bedroom units, 31 two-bedroom units, 28 three-bedroom units, and 7 four-bedroom units.  

Built and managed by Mid-Pen Housing, some of the apartments will be priced at rents affordable to families earning only 30% of the area median income.  For this reason, HCC’s Santa Cruz County Housing Coordinator, Jenny Xilonzochilt, has made it her mission to reach out to people with developmental disabilities and help them participate in the process of applying for an apartment at Schapiro Knolls.  “The people we serve in Santa Cruz County desperately need housing in this price range,” she said.  “We are struggling to help many adults with developmental disabilities, as well as families with children, who are living in housing that is unsuitable in terms of size, safety and price.  Overcrowding and frequent housing moves take a huge toll on a person’s ability to meet their full developmental potential, especially a young child’s.  The overwhelming insecurity of many clients’ housing situation adds to the stress of people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers.”

Working with this reality on a daily basis, Jenny and Housing Assistant Amy Ruvalcaba have spent the past eight weeks helping more than 100 clients assess whether they would fit the income, household size, credit-worthiness and other legal requirements to live at Schapiro Knolls.  In the end, the HCC team was able to help 34 households with developmental disabilities submit applications to live in the Schapiro Knolls housing by the December 14 deadline.  

In contrast with Santa Clara County, where developers have partnered with HCC to create set-asides of 148 affordable units specifically for people with developmental disabilities at eleven different properties, Mid-Pen Housing’s Schapiro Knolls project does not include any units that are set-aside for people with developmental disabilities.  

In praising HCC’s Santa Cruz County staff, HCC’s Executive Director observed:  “Jenny and
Amy have done what they could to increase the odds that Schapiro Knolls will be a housing community that opens doors for people with developmental disabilities. Now we can only wait and hope that some of our clients are selected in the lottery by which the housing will be awarded.”  

HCC Residents Usher in the Holidays

On December 15, 2012, thirty residents of HCC’s Partner Properties, as well as HCC staff, gathered to celebrate the holidays at a party held at Rivertown Apartments in Santa Clara.  After enjoying some delicious holiday treats, the partygoers “got down” to the music of DJ Ray Navarra.  Door prizes and gifts added to the holiday spirit.  Thank you to everyone whose gifts of time, donations, and food made the party a merry occasion.

Taproot Foundation Awards HCC a Strategic Planning Service Grant 

The Taproot Foundation has selected Housing Choices Coalition to receive a service grant for preparation of a new strategic plan, valued at $70,000.  Taproot supports the development of nonprofit organizations like HCC by assembling teams of experienced consultants to work with the organization on significant projects on a pro bono basis.  Expressing the HCC Board of Directors’ appreciation for the Taproot award, Executive Director Jan Stokley commented:  “In the years since HCC last developed a strategic plan, the world in which we work has changed dramatically.  The consulting support from the Taproot team will enable HCC to assess the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and create a long-term plan to expand and improve our impact and guide us in creating new housing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.”  The organization will begin work on the planning process in January 2013 and expects to solicit input from a variety of community stakeholders.

HCC’s Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Annual Report Is Available

The fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 was a time of transition for Housing Choices Coalition, as we said good-by to Executive Director Sarah Grignon and welcomed a new Executive Director Jan Stokley.  Read our Annual Report to learn what we accomplished and see who helped us do it.

First Community Housing Receives LEED Platinum Award for Fourth Street Apartments 

First Community Housing’s nine-story, 100-unit affordable apartment development, Fourth Street Family Apartments, has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.  Platinum is the highest rating achievable in the LEED rating system.  LEED is the USGBC's rating system for designing and constructing the world's greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings.

Fourth Street Apartments provides 100 affordable apartments (one, two, and three-bedrooms) in downtown San Jose for households who earn less than 30% to 60% of the Area Median Income.  Twenty-nine of the units are set aside for occupants with developmental disabilities, with resident services coordination provided by Housing Choices Coalition.

The building's sustainable features include a vegetated living roof and a rooftop photovoltaic system; locally-sourced materials; natural linoleum flooring; 'cradle-to-cradle' carpeting made from recycled materials that will later be recycled; water-conserving toilets, showers, faucets and irrigation; a well-insulated building envelope with energy-efficient windows and solar shading; Energy Star appliances; LED lighting; and no-VOC adhesives, paints and sealants to preserve healthy indoor air quality  for building occupants.  To promote healthy living and reduce dependence on cars, FCH designed the building with ample secure bicycle parking and an extra shower for staff bicyclists.  In addition, FCH provides a free annual transit pass ("EcoPass") to each tenant for bus and light rail transportation throughout the county.  During construction, 95% of construction waste was diverted from the landfill. The property's maintenance team has been trained in the sustainable operation of the  building, and each household received a green building orientation tour and educational handbook prior to moving in.

Crystal Bruffett,
Dec 20, 2012, 12:09 AM