Tulare County may add $5M to homeless village

Tulare County applies for affordable housing grant from the state for construction of 52-unit mobile home park for the homeless being built by Self-Help Enterprises and Salt+Light

GOSHEN – The nonprofit group organizing a homeless village in Goshen raised $200,000 at a sold-out event Aug. 20 at the Visalia Convention Center. Now, the first-of-its-kind project in California, may be able to add $5 million to its efforts.

Less than two weeks after Salt + Light held its first major fundraiser, founder Adrianne Hillman attended the Aug. 31 board of supervisors meeting to hear officials authorize staff to apply for $5 million in funding from the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for the Neighborhood Village, a 52-unit mobile home park to be built as permanent supportive housing for Tulare County’s homeless. The village will be located on 6.5 acres next to Self-Help Enterprises’ Sequoia Commons multifamily housing project, phase one of which opened in 2020, at Road 76 and Avenue 310 south of Florence Ave. in Goshen, adjacent to the city of Visalia.

“This is a pretty big deal in trying to help and mitigate Tulare County’s unsheltered population,” board chair Amy Shuklian said.

The county is applying for the funds on behalf of Self-Help, which will be the beneficiary of the funds, as construction financing for the project. The funds will be provided to Self-Help during construction based on a construction draw from the licensed general contractor and will leverage a conventional construction loan through HCD’s Multi-Family Housing Program.

The $5 million also isn’t guaranteed but rather a competitive grant through HCD’s Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA). The funding was created by Senate Bill 2 passed in 2017 to address the shortage of affordable housing in California. The Building Homes and Jobs Act established a $75 recording fee on all real estate documents. Seventy percent of the funding goes to cities in the form of direct allocations and 30% goes to the state for the competitive grant program. For example, Tulare County is putting $3.5 million of its direct allocation of PLHA funding toward two other Self-Help Enterprise projects in The Lofts at Ft. Visalia and Goshen Village East.

Supervisor Pete Vander Poel said the grant would be one-time funding to help construct the project which he said should be extremely competitive for its unique model.

“I’m really appreciative of the ongoing vision,” Vander Poel said. “We’re doing our part to help see the project across the finish line.”

Thirty-one of 11 by 30-foot mobile homes will be one bedroom and 21 will be two-bedroom units. All units will include a kitchen, restroom, laundry room and bedroom. Three of the units will be reserved for missional residents. Selected by Salt+Light, missional residents are the “glue in the community” and will help coordinate events, foster relationships within the community and to be the liaison between the community and outside entities.

The community will also include 73 parking spaces, a 5,000-square foot unity hall, a dog park and a memorial garden. The unity hall will not only be a community gathering place it will also have a commercial kitchen for large events, provide work spaces for residents to start their own micro business and offices for local service providers to meet with residents privately. Services will include case management, behavioral health, health and wellness, financial literacy and budgeting, economic development and job training.

The project is expected to begin construction in April 2022 with a move-in date of November 2022.

“I get a lot of questions about what we are doing [with this project] I am really proud to tell them about this project,” Supervisor Dennis Townsend said. “I’m looking forward to this being a wonderful project for this city and all of Tulare County.”

Much of the project will be built with a 55-year loan through the HCD’s Multi-Family Housing Program. Under the program, seven units must be rented to residents at 30% of Area Median Income (AMI), 10 to those at 45% and 32 to those at 50% of AMI. The average per capita income for Tulare County was $21,380 in 2019. That means those living at the village will pay between $159 and $267 per month in rent, including utilities, based on the formulas in the affordable housing agreement between Self Help and Tulare County. Most of the remaining rent will be covered by housing vouchers, of which Tulare County has more than available housing units.

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