First phase complete for Caritas Homes affordable housing development in downtown Santa Rosa

A ribbon-cutting ceremony signaled the grand opening of 64 housing units which are the newest part of the county’s affordable housing inventory.|

The first residents of the new Caritas Homes had just barely settled in when they were invited to a celebration outside their front doors Thursday. That’s when representatives from the city of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Burbank Housing and Catholic Charities marked the completion of the first phase of the affordable housing development.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony signaled the grand opening of 64 housing units which are the newest part of the county’s affordable housing inventory.

Caritas Homes is the most recent affordable housing development to open in downtown Santa Rosa and is a partnership between nonprofit Burbank Housing and Catholic Charities to offer housing for both low-income earners making between 40% and 60% of the area median income and permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness.

The development is part of the overall Caritas Village campus and sits on the city block east of Highway 101 and along Seventh and Morgan Streets, on the same block as Caritas Center, a homelessness resource hub from Catholic Charities that opened last year.

The first phase opens amid a chronic housing shortage across much of the North Bay. Once the second building is completed, which will be identical with an additional 64 units and located in the lot directly next to the first, there will be a total of 128 units of affordable housing.

“Housing is the foundation for stability, health (and) well being and by investing in it, we knew we were investing in people’s future,” Catholic Charities CEO Jennielynn Holmes said before the ribbon-cutting. “We firmly believe that no one should have to endure a life without a home, a bed, a shower (or) a kitchen. Thirty more people will have the opportunity to thrive once again living in these homes.”

Caritas Homes was originally going to be developed on a smaller scale until the Tubbs Fire exacerbated the need for more affordable housing.

“We threw that plan away and said we need to be much more aggressive (and) we need to build as many units on this property as we can,” said Mark Krug, special projects manager at Burbank Housing. “It’s going to make an impact for the community both for the provision of affordable housing and homeless housing.”

Residents for the half of the units in the first of two buildings were chosen through an April 21 lottery with the other half allocated for those experiencing homelessness. A handful of residents moved into their units in early August.

“I would like to thank Burbank Housing and Catholic Charities and other partners for making this place affordable with friendly neighbors and (that) I can actually call this place home,” said Sam Rivera, one of the first residents to move into Caritas Homes after previously living out of his car. “I really feel blessed to be standing here.”

The first phase of the housing development cost $43.7 million and broke ground in December 2021. Construction was completed in July.

According to a news release, the project received $22.3 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits purchased by Silicon Valley Bank, $8.9 million in federal Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery funding administered by the city of Santa Rosa, $6.5 million from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, a $2.9 million permanent loan from Apple Corp. and administered by Housing Trust Silicon Valley, $2.2 million from Providence Health for both phases of Caritas Homes, $1.57 million from the county’s Community Development Commission and a $500,000 grant from Silicon Valley Bank Foundation.

The second building will be identical to the first, with construction anticipated to break ground next fall.

You can reach Staff Writer Sara Edwards at 707-521-5487 or sara.edwards@pressdemocrat. com. On Twitter @sedwards380.

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