67 affordable rental housing units for low income families and homeless/at-risk veterans are being planned at 2821 El Camino Real in unincorporated Redwood City, thanks to a $3.5 million dollar loan that just funded from HEART of San Mateo County to non-profit developer, Palo Alto Housing Corp (PAH). The money was given on a one-year loan with a very low interest rate in order to facilitate PAH’s purchase of the 0.59-acre site, which is currently home to an Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Plans call for the construction of 67 studio and one bedroom apartments. 34 of those units will be made available to families making 30-60% of the area’s median income which, according to the San Mateo County Department of Housing, is between $39,500 and $78,960 annually for a family of four. 27 units will be reserved for homeless or at-risk veterans, and the remaining 6 will be set aside for homeless or at-risk individuals with mental illness. Support services for these tenants will be provided on-site as well. The project is currently in the preliminary stages of the the application process as PAH waits for the property to be rezoned, which they hope will occur sometime in November. If all goes as planned (which is rarely the case in development), construction will begin early 2019, and the property will be fully leased by late 2020.
The Housing Endowment and Regional Trust (HEART) of San Mateo County has been a crucial resource for getting affordable housing projects up and running, especially since the dissolution of California’s 400 plus redevelopment agencies in 2012. HEART is a public/private partnership formed by the county, cities, and labor, business, and education non-profits with the purpose of providing more affordable housing opportunities. Since it’s inception in 2003, the organization has received $14 million in funding gifts and pledges, enabling them to invest around $12.4 million into more than 950 affordable homes across the county. That money goes towards land purchase, architectural drawings, environmental impact reports, and other costly obstacles that cash-strapped non-profit developers face before they can even break ground on a project.
Since this project is on county lands, it doesn’t fall under Redwood City jurisdiction and therefore will be voted on by county officials rather than the Redwood City Planning Commission. Still, if approved, this would be the largest stand alone affordable housing development to be approved in the Redwood City area since the passing of the Downtown Precise Plan in 2011. It will lose that distinction however, if Sobrato is able to gain approval for their massive Broadway Plaza redevelopment, which includes a separate 120 unit affordable housing development.