As part of the post-wildfire healing and recovery of the Santa Rosa community, Kaiser Permanente awarded a $1 million grant to PEP Housing, a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing limited-income seniors access to affordable, quality housing with supportive services and advocacy. The grant will help fund a highly-needed new development in Santa Rosa with affordable senior housing for those affected by the fires.
“In October 2017, one of our employees lost her mother to the fires. It was devastating. We knew we needed to do something. We decided to do what we do best – housing,” said Executive Director Mary Stompe of PEP Housing. “In honor of Linda Tunis, we started planning an affordable housing option for seniors displaced by the fires with access to support and resources for healthy living.”
More than 83,000 residents of Sonoma County are over 65, and nearly 7 percent of them have incomes below the poverty level. This project will fill a gap in housing by providing an all-senior housing project that will serve fire victims and other chronically homeless seniors. It will function as a transition while residents seek larger units with kitchens or living arrangements with a higher level of care.
“Thanks to the tremendous support from Kaiser Permanente, we’re coming together as a community to create new housing opportunities for seniors who lost their homes in the fires and restoring their dignity and resilience in the process,” Mary added.
Located in a beautiful setting near St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, the project will provide 22 units. Each unit includes a private bedroom, restroom, and basic cooking essentials. The facility will have a common kitchen and dining area where residents can enjoy community meals and activities, a dog run, and a garden area all to promote a healthy lifestyle. In addition, residents will have access to a resident service coordinator who can help them navigate the complex network of services, so they can access benefits such as healthcare and nourishing food supplements. This project is more than just a development; it is a community.
“We are very proud supporters of PEP Housing’s Linda Tunis project as it closely aligns with our mission to help the most vulnerable populations affected by the fires,” said Alena Wall, Community Benefit manager at Kaiser Permanente. “The project will provide subsidized housing within 10 months after project approval. This is significantly faster than a new construction build that can take 5 years to complete and will cost approximately one-third of a new build.”
There is a sense of urgency to this development mostly because of a limitation of federal support for temporary mobile housing units for 18 months after natural disasters. For 18 months after the fires, federal aid houses seniors who lost their homes in the fires in mobile homes. After that, they will be on their own. We know that some of these seniors have nowhere to go and this is the population PEP Housing is planning to support.