FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2021
For More Information, Contact:
Kelsey Martinez Combellick
(408) 299-5050 office
(408) 299-1277 cell
AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES REACHES NEW MILESTONE
SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County took an important step forward today on an effort to build affordable housing for low-income people with developmental disabilities. Following a recommendation from the County’s Office of Supportive Housing, the Board of Supervisors today approved Eden Housing as the selected developer for the project, which will be located on a County-owned site at 525 East Charleston Road, Palo Alto. Eden will be partnering with local nonprofit AbilityPath (formerly known as Gatepath and Abilities United) to provide services on the site.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who proposed the project back in February 2020, was pleased to see this progress. “Selection of a nonprofit development partner is key,” said Simitian.
“Now things get real. This is a tangible step forward in addressing a crucial area of need,” said Simitian. “I’m looking forward to seeing how this project develops over the next few years. Having AbilityPath in the mix is an added plus, and the location is ideal.”
Eden Housing will now guide the project through the next stages of planning, development, and community outreach. This will include working with the County’s Office of Supportive Housing to host community meetings to gather input from the public on the design and features of the project.
“We thank Santa Clara County for selecting us for the East Charleston Road project,” said Linda Mandolini, President of Eden Housing. “We look forward to bringing much-needed affordable homes to the area that allow people with disabilities to thrive.”
Though finding affordable housing in this region can be difficult in general, “the Bay Area housing shortage crisis has had a devastating impact on those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, leaving them with few, if any, opportunities to live independently in a community setting,” said Bryan Neider, CEO of AbilityPath, a nonprofit that provides supportive services to these populations.
Neider added, “The proposed project would provide a supportive living environment, in a respectful, quality and enriching setting. In partnership with Eden Housing, AbilityPath will provide a wide array of supportive services ensuring those living in their new apartments can take full advantage of all that life has to offer, inspiring inclusion, acceptance and respect other communities can model.”
This project builds on a series of other steps the County has taken over the past few years to increase housing for residents with developmental disabilities:
- In September of 2018, at Simitian’s urging, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to identify $40 million in County funds to support the creation of affordable housing units with supportive services specifically for lower income residents with developmental disabilities. Simitian’s notion was that a commitment of $10 million a year for four years would, “serve as a catalyst for the development of affordable housing serving people with developmental disabilities.”
- In October of 2019, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to award funds to develop housing for low-income residents with developmental disabilities at projects in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and the City of Santa Clara.
- In December of 2020, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to award funds to develop housing for low-income residents with developmental disabilities at a project in San Jose.
- In February of 2020, following a proposal by Simitian, the Board of Supervisors voted to direct administration to pursue affordable housing development options including housing for persons with developmental disabilities at the 525 East Charleston Road site.
Simitian noted that these efforts are especially necessary because people with developmental disabilities don’t normally qualify for supportive housing within the County unless they become homeless. “But folks with severely disabling conditions often have limited incomes that make finding affordable housing extremely challenging.”
“And,” Simitian added, “given that community members with developmental disabilities are particularly at risk of grave harm if they become homeless, it’s absolutely crucial that we find ways to keep them housed, with the services they need.”
The Charleston site is particularly well-suited for housing for these individuals because of its proximity to AbilityPath and Magical Bridge, one of the area’s first all-inclusive playgrounds for children and adults with varying physical and cognitive abilities. The site is also close to a church, park, shopping center and schools.
"The County's commitment to create affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities at this site and others is a model for other counties across California," said Jan Stokley, Executive Director of Housing Choices, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities.
"The number of Santa Clara County adults with developmental disabilities who live at home with aging parents will continue to grow in the decades ahead,” said Stokley. “This project demonstrates that we can create powerful solutions through collaboration among the County, the San Andreas Regional Center, experienced service providers, and talented affordable housing developers."
According to County staff, the developer’s expected timeframe for the project is:
- May 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022: Work with the City of Palo Alto to host community meetings, develop conceptual plans, complete rezoning applications, and obtain land use entitlements.
- October 31, 2022: Begin demolition of the existing improvements
- December 30, 2022: Secure all financing for the project.
- March 30, 2023: Begin construction.
- March 30, 2025: Complete construction
Simitian said he’s hoping to work with the City of Palo Alto and the developer to expedite the project.
“As a parent of an adult with intellectual disabilities, I think it’s a fabulous idea for the County to partner to create housing for the developmentally disabled around the corner from the Palo Alto center for the AbilityPath services that support them,” said Linnea Wickstrom.
Wickstrom’s son, Per Maresca, a client of AbilityPath and Housing Choices, added, “I think it’s a great location next to shopping, the Mitchell Park community center, and right by public transit that lets people get to their jobs. We enthusiastically support this project.”
At their meeting today, the Board of Supervisors also approved the developer selection for another affordable housing project in the North County, to be located at 330 Distel Circle in Los Altos. That project is slated to begin construction at the end of 2022.
Monthly progress reports on the East Charleston Road project will be presented at meetings of the Board of Supervisors’ Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee (on which Simitian serves). Agendas for these meetings and instructions on how to participate can be found here: http://sccgov.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx?frame=no.