In 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs selected Core Affordable Housing to develop a two-acre portion of the VA’s Menlo Park campus. The project originated from the Federal BURR Initiative, a Congressional effort to eliminate the nationwide housing crisis among veterans.
The development team includes: Core Affordable Housing to manage finance, development, construction and operations; EAH Housing to manage leasing, maintenance and operations; and HomeFirst to provide specialized supportive services in-house. These agencies have over 70 years combined experience in developing, managing, and providing services for affordable housing developments in the Bay Area of Northern California.
The most effective and efficient way to end homelessness is to build permanent, affordable homes including supportive services that promote health, stability, and self-sufficiency. As a team offering expertise in quality housing development and supportive service delivery, Core, EAH Housing, and HomeFirst hope that Willow Housing is the first of many permanent supportive housing developments serving homeless and at-risk veterans, close to healthcare, jobs, and other amenities of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.
Willow Housing strives to promote a healthy, vibrant living environment for those former military members who served and protected our nation. Veterans, both homeless and formerly homeless participated in the building and site design process through multiple focus groups. This process empowered the design team to create living spaces and community amenities that incorporate the needs and preferences identified through the focus groups.
Willows Housing includes 43,000 square feet of interior square footage, with more than 2,000 square feet of indoor community space for recreation, laundry, bicycle storage, and staff offices for counseling, leasing and maintenance. Recreational and personal development amenities include a fitness gym, community kitchen, and a business center with computers and printers. Outdoor amenities include raised-bed vegetable gardens, walking paths, mature oak trees and drought-tolerant landscaping. The building and site are designed to accommodate residents’ service animals. The property is fully ADA compliant and will be certified as LEED Silver Standard or better by the US Green Building Council.
Thanks to the following funding sources for making development of Willow Housing possible:
*Subject to change based on Construction Completion forecast, which can be affected by weather or other unforeseen conditions.
The housing crisis for Bay Area veterans is staggering. The Bay Area ranks among the most expensive housing markets in the country, with market rate rents up by 30% since 2010. According to the 2013 Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties’ “Point in Time” Homeless Count there were an estimated 1,100 homeless veterans in the two counties combined, including those sleeping in shelters, outdoors or in their vehicles. Notably, this estimate decreased in 2014 to approximately 926 homeless veterans in the two Counties.
While many veterans rely on general assistance or low-wage jobs yielding less than $40,000 per year, it would require an annual income of over $80,000 to afford a typical rental studio-apartment in the region. For Bay Area veterans with fixed and low incomes, access to decent affordable housing, near employment, health services, and their established communities of family and fellow veterans, is next to impossible. Compounding the economic challenges is the fact that 69% of all homeless veterans in the Counties reported having at least one debilitating disability, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, physical disabilities, or other mental illness.
Willow Housing answers not only the need for affordable housing for veterans, but also provides much needed services to keep these individuals housed and thriving. Through a unique public-private partnership offering both housing and services – such as case management focused on wellness and self-sufficiency – vets will gain the necessary skills and confidence to live productive lives.
And isn’t this the least that can be offered to our friends and neighbors who served – a basic sense of security, belonging, and a place to call home?