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North Bay gets $29 million financial boost to build housing for homeless with mental illness

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State housing officials on Friday announced $29 million in grants for three North Bay projects to build permanent housing for homeless people suffering from mental illness and residents with mental health deficiencies at risk of homelessness.

The money comes via the first round of awards from the state’s No Place Like Home program, created by the passage of California’s Proposition 2 in 2018. The bond measure voters approved uses a 1% tax on the state’s millionaires to provide housing for homeless people.

Burbank Housing, a Santa Rosa nonprofit builder of affordable housing, is slated to receive more than $19.5 million of the money for two home developments.

“This will go a long way toward providing the funding we need,” said Larry Florin, president and CEO of Burbank Housing.

Florin said permanent housing, with necessary support services for the homeless and those suffering mental illnesses, is the key to helping address the homeless crisis on Santa Rosa streets and across the Bay Area.

“It’s long been established that the first thing the homeless need is to have a house, to have a roof over their head,” Florin said. “This will provide the housing that folks living on the street need. ... This is a big deal, the solution for homelessness is housing and this is it.”

For one of the Santa Rosa projects, Burbank has teamed with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. That project, called Caritas Village, is getting $11.6 million toward construction of 128 affordable housing units.

Caritas, located near downtown Santa Rosa, is expected to cost $30 million but the state money will allow Burbank to secure other financing sources, including tax credits, funds from the state’s Multifamily Housing Program and from the federal government’s Project- Based Voucher program.

During the first part of developing Caritas, there will be 64 housing units. Money from Propostion 2 will be used to build 30 of them specifically for people who have experienced chronic homelessness or are at risk of chronic homelessness and have mental health conditions.

Burbank also is partnering with the Gasser Foundation in Napa County and Abode Services, a Bay Area homeless services organization, to build Heritage House in Napa. That project will convert a vacant assisted-living center, Sunrise Living, into a 66 studio and one-bedroom apartment complex. More than $10 million of No Place Like Home funds will be used to set aside 33 residences in the complex for homeless people and those with mental illness.

A third North Bay project is spearheaded by Danco Communities, a Humboldt County real estate development company specializing in affordable housing.

The 61-unit project will be built on College Avenue in Santa Rosa, with 29 units slated for construction with $10.5 million in No Place Like Home funds.

The state grants, administered by the state department of Housing and Community Development, came from $2 billion in bonds.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @pressreno.

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