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August 2012 Newsletter

Plans underway for New Studio Apartments in Mountain View
Housing Choices Coalition is pleased to announce plans for the development of 26 new studio apartments for rent to people with developmental disabilities. The developer is First Community Housing, a successful partner with HCC in creating the Fourth Street Apartments, Casa Feliz Apartments, and Gish Apartments. The new studio apartment complex will be conveniently located on El Camino Real in Mountain View and is expected to open in Fall 2014.

Designed for single-person occupancy, the studio apartments will each have 400 square feet of living space with a full kitchen. The project will include ground floor accessible units and a residential staff person. True to First Community Housing’s award-winning track record for “green building”, the project will use green building materials and energy-saving design and construction. Amenities will include a free Eco-Pass for transportation, meditation garden, computer lab, community room, secure bike parking, and laundry facilities. San Andreas Regional Center will provide funding for Housing Choices Coalition to provide onsite services to the residents of the designated units.

Housing Choices Coalition has created a brief online survey to assess the interest of single persons with developmental disabilities in the planned Mountain View studios. Take our survey now to help HCC and First Community Housing continue the planning process for this exciting project.


Fourth Street Apartments Opens Its Doors

After seven long years of planning and development, First Community Housing opened the doors of the Fourth Street Apartments in June 2012, offering 100 energy-efficient apartments (one, two, and three-bedrooms) in a nine-story building located two blocks from light rail in downtown San Jose. Twenty-nine of the apartments are designated for rent to people with developmental disabilities, who will pay $465/month for a one-bedroom unit, $555/month for a two-bedroom unit, and $638/month for a three-bedroom unit.

Housing Choices Coalition’s Santa Clara County Housing Coordinator, Alex Bonilla, managed the wait list and tenant qualification process for the 29 units designated for rent to people with developmental disabilities. “After generating so much community interest for so long, it’s exciting to be part of the final step, when our clients get the keys to their beautiful new apartment”, he said. First Community Housing was able to make five additional units available to HCC clients, bringing to 34 the total number of Fourth Street Apartment households served by HCC.

According to Jan Stokley, HCC’s Executive Director, the Fourth Street Apartments represent the model of integrated community living for people with developmental disabilities. “This apartment community has everything we could possibly hope for”, she stated. “The rents are truly affordable for people on fixed incomes, the location is ideal, and the design and construction standards surpass First Community Housing’s award-winning precedents.”

The property includes two stories of structured parking, with a landscaped courtyard providing open space, a seventh floor terrace, and a demonstration green “living” roof. Each unit is wired for internet access and offers energy-efficient windows and appliances. Other amenities include two laundry facilities, a computer lab, a large community meeting room, offices for social services, a play structure, picnic tables, secure bike parking, and a free annual transit pass.

With funding provided by San Andreas Regional Center, Housing Choices Coalition will provide onsite resident coordination services to the new community.


Local Company Creates New Opportunities for Families in Salinas

For any child, especially one like ten-year-old Christian who has an autism disorder, the space to burn off energy in outdoor play and claim some time to oneself is essential to healthy development. But playing outdoors wasn’t an option when Christian’s family was living in a small second-story apartment in the gang violence-plagued neighborhood of East Salinas. Christian’s Mom simply wouldn’t allow Christian or his seven-year-old brother much freedom because of the safety risks that were all too present in the very low income neighborhood. She even hesitated to schedule in-home behavioral services for Christian because she assumed workers would share her fears.

Fortunately, the San Andreas Regional Center referred the family to the Watsonville office of Housing Choices Coalition in October 2011 when Christian’s Mom was expecting her third child. The family was then paying $950/month for their run-down and cramped apartment in East Salinas. That was more than they could afford with Christian’s Mom on disability and his Dad working seasonally.

HCC’s Monterey County Housing Coordinator, Eduardo Najera, and Housing Assistant, Amy Ruvalcaba, immediately advised the family to start saving for a security deposit while the two of them hunted down open wait lists for affordable housing rentals in safer parts of Salinas. Almost four months later, the family was moving into a new ground-floor apartment at the 48-unit Rogge Road Apartments in North Salinas. Recently developed by Don Chapin Company under Monterey County’s inclusionary housing ordinance, the apartments are affordable to very low, low and moderate income families. Christian’s family of five, including Mom, Dad, seven-year old brother, and new baby brother, pays $764/month for their Rogge Road apartment, with all utilities included, which has contributed to their financial stability.

Eduardo Najera, HCC’s Monterey County staff, credits much of the success of this story to the collaborative relationship he and colleague Amy Ruvalcaba have developed with the Rogge Road Apartments property management staff. In contrast with HCC’s track record in Santa Clara County, HCC has not been able to create designated units for people with development disabilities in Monterey County. Eduardo commented, “Without designated units for rent to people with developmental disabilities, we have to beat the bushes to find affordable rentals here in Monterey County, and then we are competing with households that have stronger credit and better employment histories. When we find a company like Don Chapin Company with property management staff who are ready, willing and able to work with the highest need people, including those affected by developmental disability, it makes our job much easier.”

Christian’s Mom is grateful for the new home, which she describes as “a more tranquil and pleasant place and, best of all, it's affordable, and more spacious. Christian is no longer at risk of being influenced by his surroundings, and that’s especially important to me because he is the oldest and his 7 year old brother looks up to him." She now feels very comfortable inviting Christian’s behavioral services specialists, as well as playmates, friends and family, to their new home—a network of support which, like the improved environment, contributes to better outcomes for Christian.
Summer Fun at Archstone Santa Clara

Residents of Archstone Apartments in Santa Clara got to show off their lovely grounds and spacious pool when they hosted their annual Pool Party and BBQ on July 7th. Current and former residents from seven different Housing Choices Coalition Partner Properties turned out to socialize with friends, swim, and enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs grilled by HCC staff. Those who were able to attend got to meet HCC's new Executive Director, Jan Stokley.

Archstone Santa Clara was developed in 2002 on land that became available when Agnews Developmental Center was closing. The privately managed development of 450 rental units includes 23 units which are designated for rent to people with developmental disabilities who are supported by HCC’s Resident Coordination Program.

Housing Choices Coalition hosts events throughout the year at all of the Partner Properties, so check the calendar to see when and where the next event will be! Hope to see you there! Check out the Calendar today!


What is Proposition 30 and Why Does It Matter to People with Developmental Disabilities?


The 2012-2013 budget passed by the state legislature in June provided some financial relief to Regional Centers and the many vendor organizations, like Housing Choices Coalition, which Regional Centers pay to serve people with developmental disabilities. The budget restored a part of the funding that has been cut from the Department of Developmental Services budget since the current economic crisis began in 2008. But that relief may not last.


The 2012-2013 budget also provided that funding for services for people with developmental disabilities would face a “trigger” or automatic reduction of $50 million if Proposition 30, Governor Brown’s revenue-raising initiative, was not passed by the voters on November 6, 2012. Prop. 30 would increase the state’s sales and use tax by a quarter-cent for four years and increase personal income tax rates on income above $250,000 for seven years. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Proposition 30 would raise $6.8 billion in 2012-2013, while the Governor’s Department of Finance estimates it would raise $9 billion.


Prop. 30 allocates 89 percent of these new revenues to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges. But because of the 2012-2013 budget bill’s various automatic “triggers” for reducing state spending in the event Prop. 30 fails, including the $50 million “trigger” for reducing services for people with developmental disabilities, it’s not just education funding that is at stake.

Supporters of Proposition 30 say that the new revenue will help the state address its ongoing structural deficit and meet its obligations to K-12 education, which in turn would free up hundreds of millions of dollars annually through 2016-17. A support website, with a list of endorsing organizations, can be found here:

Opponents of Proposition 30 argue that the measure would raise sales and income taxes on all Californians, not just the wealthy, would harm small businesses, and would not provide new funding for schools. An opposition website can be found here: