Applications Stream in for Sobrato

More than 100 families seek space at the emergency housing
project set to open in January
Gilroy – In just one week, more than 100 local families have applied for living space at the future Sobrato Transitional Apartments, an emergency housing project expected to start operation in January.

South County Housing, the nonprofit affordable housing group responsible for the project, spread word through local papers and through direct appeals to social service agencies that it would accept “pre-applications” through today. Families that are already homeless or in peril of losing their housing can enter a lottery for one of the 60 housing units under construction at 9369 Monterey St. South County Housing officials are discussing the possibility of extending the deadline.

“Because of fair housing laws we have to make this widely available, but obviously we’re targeting the South County area,” spokesman Poncho Guevara said. “We’ve had a number of applications from individuals that are actively homeless right now. Our targeted marketing has really been South County and that’s what we’ve been getting.”

Families, defined as at least one adult with a minor child, can submit a “pre-application” to participate in a lottery that will determine the waiting list for the apartments, according to South County compliance manager Luz Soria. She said the group will give preference to families with children or spouses suffering from depression, disabilities, or some other “special need.”

The Sobrato apartments will charge varying rates depending on the number of family members and the total household income. For instance, a four person family earning $53,050, or half the county’s median income, would have to pay $650 in rent. A family of the same size earning $21,220 would only have to pay $280. All residents would have to put down a $500 security deposit.

Guevara said South County will provide up to two years of child care, employment, health and housing services “to help stabilize families, improve their income and get them on their way.”

The Sobrato apartments form one half of the Sobrato Transitional Center, a larger project intended to meet the short and long-term needs of families facing homelessness. EHC LifeBuilders, a nonprofit emergency housing consortium based in San Jose, began construction last week on a 25,000-square-foot transitional housing shelter. The facility will provide 140 beds for either one-night stays or up to 90 days.

The combined Sobrato Transitional Center, located at Monterey Road and Farrell Avenue, will cost $22 million.

Dina Campeau, chairwoman of the South County Collaborative, an association of nonprofit and public human services agencies, said the Sobrato center will fill an important void in the area.

“We’ve had a real dearth of transitional units for families in South County,” she said. “The families down here have really unique needs as compared to those in the northern part of the county. Families here are poor and under-educated. Transitional apartments give them a chance to get them on their feet.”

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