Groundbreaking for housing center

John Sobrato addresses a crowd in front of the construction site

Gilroy
– City and county officials gathered at a vacant lot on Monterey
Road and Farrell Avenue Friday to break ground on a $22 million
housing development for South County’s homeless population. The
housing will include a 60-unit apartment complex and a 140-bed
shelter to be run by EHC LifeBuilders, for
merly the Emergency Housing Consortium.
Gilroy – City and county officials gathered at a vacant lot on Monterey Road and Farrell Avenue Friday to break ground on a $22 million housing development for South County’s homeless population. The housing will include a 60-unit apartment complex and a 140-bed shelter to be run by EHC LifeBuilders, formerly the Emergency Housing Consortium.

The Sobrato Transitional Housing Center is a collaborative effort of EHC, South County Housing, the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County and other organizations. Luminaries at the event stressed how happy they were to finally be turning some dirt after years of fighting to get the project funded and approved.

“The best thing about today is seeing all the faces we saw at community meetings when we were trying to convince the neighborhood that this is a good thing for Gilroy,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage said. “I’m very proud that this is happening in our community. In the whole county, Gilroy is on the leading edge of doing what’s right for the people.”

Major funders include the county Office of Affordable Funding, which contributed a total of $3.7 from the county’s general fund, the state, which kicked in $6.1 million, and the Sobrato Family Foundation in Cupertino, which provided $1.5 million in loans and grants.

The Sobrato Foundation previously helped finance the Sobrato Family Living Center in Santa Clara. John Sobrato Sr. said Friday that he’s never worked with a better management team than that at EHC.

“We’ve been very successful in Silicon Valley and feel like we have to give back to the community,” Sobrato said. “We like to partner with people who have great track records.”

Margaret Gregg, the county’s homeless concerns coordinator, said that it’s important to develop projects in Gilroy because the South County has relatively few homeless services even though it has a sizable homeless population.

It’s estimated that there are about 20,000 homeless countywide. No one knows for sure how many of them call Gilroy’s streets home, but on a typical winter night, all 125 beds at National Guard Armory on Wren Avenue are full, as are the beds available at Saint Joseph’s Family center and the Boccardo Family Living Center in San Martin.

In December, the county conducted a street-count of the homeless population to gauge the need for services in different parts of the county. Gregg said she should have preliminary results from the count in a few days. Final numbers should be available by the end of March.

Rent for families in 32 of the units will be set at 30 percent of income. Rent for the remaining units will be at affordable levels and reserved for families earning less than 35 percent of the county median income, which is about $105,000 for a family of four. The shelter will also provide job-training and health services.

Gilroy City Council Member Charlie Morales said Friday that the development should be a source of pride for Gilroy.

“This shows we’re committed to all citizens,” he said.

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