The grand re-opening of the Sunset Garden Apartments went off with a bang April 23, as the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara hosted the kickoff party with several of California’s politicians in tow.
The remodel of Sunset Garden showcases the agency’s successful program of upgrading and revitalizing traditional low-income public housing via creative public-private partnerships. U.S. Representative Mike Honda, Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman, and Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro attended the ribbon cutting on April 23 at the grounds 7750 Wren Avenue.
HACSC solves a stubborn housing problem
Built and funded under the federal government’s public housing program for low-income renters in the 1980s and 1990s, 10 properties in Santa Clara, San Jose, Gilroy and Campbell faced a steady downward trend in federal funding, maintenance and renovation.
But through a creative partnering of public and private parties, HACSC in the past three years has rehabilitated and upgraded 100 percent of its 555 public housing units, preserving critical low-income housing options in one the country’s hottest rental markets.
HACSC leveraged over $90 million in private funds from tax credits, loans, and bonds. The total cost of the construction work was approximately $84 million, and addressed millions of dollars of deferred capital work that could not be financed from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual Capital Grant for Public Housing.
Four different general contractors were hired to complete these projects, and the work has created over 400 jobs for construction workers, legal and architectural professionals, as well as city building inspectors.
“We’ve proven that public-private partnerships are a successful formula for serving the low-income housing needs of Santa Clara County, and indeed, the nation,” said Alex Sanchez, executive director of HACSC. “Sunset Garden Apartments is one shining example of what can be achieved.”
About the Sunset Garden Apartments project
Originally built in 1982, Sunset Garden Apartments contains 74 units of one- and two-bedroom housing units primarily for seniors and the disabled.
In addition to improvements to the apartments, residents were also provided with a completely new and expanded community center and a fully accessible garden. Tenants were relocated temporarily during the rehabilitation, either on site or offsite, and resident services such as case management, educational classes and after school programs continued to be provided.
The project came in on time and under budget.
HACSC’s real estate services
To date, HACSC has newly constructed, rehabilitated and served as developer/owner for over 30 Santa Clara County housing developments serving families, seniors, persons with disabilities, migrant farmworkers and the homeless population.
“If the deterioration of these properties had remained unaddressed, many buildings faced the likelihood of closure in the next few years,” said Vanessa Cooper, HACSC’s director of real estate services. “Those closures would have resulted in a tragic and significant loss of low rent housing for some of the most vulnerable in our community.”
The prospect of this unacceptable outcome compelled HACSC to be among the first housing authorities in the country to pursue the only viable option: Exit the Public Housing program and creatively change the ownership structure of the properties.