Fifty-five households in Redwood City will remain intact because of a first-of-its-kind partnership between the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and a nonprofit with a mission to provide safe, affordable housing to Bay Area residents.
The Board of Supervisors agreed to loan $5.8 million to MidPen Housing to purchase the Atherton Court apartments, located at 3752-3770 Rolison Road, east of Highway 101 near Marsh Road in Redwood City.
The loan allows MidPen Housing to purchase the property at market rate and distinguish it as permanent affordable housing, a need deemed critical in the Bay Area.
“You can go to city council meetings up and down the Peninsula and there will be someone there speaking on the risk of displacement they are seeing in their community,” said Jan Lindenthal, MidPen’s vice president of Real Estate Development.
Being able to preserve a building this size and create permanent affordable housing is a huge opportunity for MidPen, she said, adding the board’s Nov. 15 approval of the loan is a shining example of how two agencies can work together to combat the housing shortage.
Once the property is acquired in December, the nonprofit will work to secure funding to renovate each unit to improve the overall property. Residents will be temporarily relocated while renovations take place.
“This will be a comprehensive rehabilitation of the property,” said Lindenthal. “Our budget is to invest about $60,000 per unit to improve building systems, new doors, windows, the roof and to replace interiors of each unit as needed.”
The renovations will take place in phases to minimize the time that residents will have to temporarily be relocated. MidPen Housing will cover all costs of upgrades and relocation.
The loan is the first that supervisors have approved through the county’s Measure A-funded Affordable Rental Acquisition and Preservation Program. The money comes from a resolution adopted in June that allocates $10 million in Measure A funds, according to county spokeswoman Michelle Durand. The fund was created expressly to preserve apartment buildings like Atherton Court.
“Atherton Court is the type of building that is often getting snapped up and flipped by speculators,” she said. “Rather than see that happen and those residents potentially displaced or facing steep rent increases, the county is doing what it can to maintain those 55 units at below-market rents and in fact improve conditions there by taking care of deferred maintenance.”
Residents were at risk of being displaced if the property was sold to a commercial outfit, Lindenthal said. The owners of the property did not want residents to be evicted so welcomed the market-rate sale to MidPen Housing.
The partnership with the county is a great opportunity to replicate this with other counties and cities, Lindenthal said. Alameda County and the cities of San Francisco and Oakland all have similar programs.
“San Mateo County is unique in investing in this significant of a way,” she said. “This is a huge step with innovation and, now that we have proven that we can do it, we hope this can be replicated in other communities.”
MidPen Housing was founded in 1970 by a small group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs concerned with rising rents and an overall lack of affordable housing on the Peninsula. Its mission is to provide safe affordable housing to those in need and preserve diversity in communities.