Showing posts with label @sedwards380. Show all posts
Showing posts with label @sedwards380. Show all posts

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Santa Rosa's Caritas Homes: Addressing the Housing Crisis Amid Fairness Concerns.

 Mural by Christopher Statton and Megan Wilson, 2015
© Ponderosa Templeton 2017
via Wikimedia Commons.
Sarah Edwards of the Press Democrat writes today about new housing in Santa Rosa. Tenants will soon be selected to fill 33 affordable apartments in downtown Santa Rosa, as part of Burbank Housing's two-phase Caritas Homes development. The project aims to provide 126 units in total to address the housing shortage in North Bay. The first building of the Caritas Homes development is set to be completed by July 1, with half of the first phase's residents being chosen through an April 21 lottery and the remaining units allocated for those experiencing homelessness. The development will be located at 340 and 360 Seventh St., catering to households earning between 40% and 60% of the area median income or those with a Sonoma County Housing Choice Voucher or Section 8 voucher.

Caritas Homes will consist of two identical buildings, each with 63 units, offering studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. The first 30 units in each building will be reserved for people experiencing homelessness. The development will also feature a secured parking garage, indoor community room, outdoor gathering space, and indoor bicycle storage. The first building cost $44 million to build, while the second will require $47 million due to inflation and rising construction costs.

Sonoma County behavioral health services and Catholic Charities will be available to support tenants who were previously homeless. The project, which provides around 90 units per acre, is different from the existing construction in downtown Santa Rosa. The development was initiated in response to the chronic housing shortage, which was further exacerbated by the 2017 Tubbs Fire, destroying 5,000 housing units in Sonoma County.

Two items struck me about this article. Firstly, the development doesn't look like 90 units per acre at all; instead, it looks attractive and friendly, with a mix of two, three, and four-storey elevations. The architects should be commended for that. Secondly, a more challenging and emotional point is that housing allocation is being determined here by a lottery system. Deciding where someone lives is a very high-stakes matter to decide on chance. The article mentions that around 10,000 people are on waiting lists for housing in the county, and nearly 3,000 are homeless. In a society that emphasizes distributive justice, resources should be allocated unequally only to the extent that it benefits the least advantaged members of the community. Instead of a lottery system, a  better way would involve assessing needs and prioritizing those in the most vulnerable situations. Only then will our shared sense of fairness be addressed, one of the crucial requirements of any effort to address our housing crisis.