801 Alma Family Housing FAQs

Who will live in 801 Alma?
Working families whose family income is $40,000 per year or less. Many of these families already live in Palo Alto under crowded or unsafe conditions.

How much rent will the resident families pay?
They will pay no more than 30% of their family income for the apartment rents. For a family with income of $40,000 per year, they will pay no more than $1,000 per month. For a family with income of $30,000 per year, they will pay no more than $750 per month. For a family with income of $20,000 per year, they will pay no more than $500 per month.

What kind of jobs will these residents have?
Clerks/cashiers in local businesses
Medical technicians
Childcare workers
In-home service providers for seniors
Landscapers
House cleaners
Janitors/custodians
Social service employees
Anyone earning from $9.50 per hour up to $19.25 per hour

How will they be selected?
When the construction of the apartments is nearing completion, notices will be widely circulated throughout the Midpeninsula area (Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park) inviting interested families to submit an application for an apartment. Each application will be reviewed against the eligibility requirements from our public funders. Initially, applicants will be randomly selected from all eligible applications received. Once the apartments are filled, a waiting list will be created with the names of those who were eligible but not selected. As units become vacant, applicants on the waiting list will be notified in the order their applications were submitted to update their applications if still interested. If the waiting list does not produce a tenant family to fill the vacancy, new applications will be received.

Is the development location appropriate for the targeted residents?
The site is three blocks from Palo Alto's central University Avenue commercial district and will provide residents easy access to a number of neighborhood amenities including commercial stores (grocery store, pharmacy, and a hardware store), services (financial, restaurants, and cleaners), and a major medical clinic. The Transit Center which boasts frequent CalTrain service and both local and regional bus service is located 1 1/2 blocks away.

What are some of the development's details?
801 Alma will contain 16 three-bedroom apartments, 26 two-bedroom apartments, and 8 one-bedroom apartments. The building will be four stories high, over one level of underground parking. Common spaces will include a lobby, a community room, a computer classroom, a spacious outdoor courtyard with a play area for children, management offices, bike storage area, and a laundry room with an outdoor deck. An elevator will serve all floors including the garage. This will be a Green Point Rated project with features including a "living roof" and photovoltaic collectors for hot water. Construction is expected to be completed in August/September 2013.

Is the proposed parking adequate?
Yes. The project has 60 parking spaces in the underground garage and 6 guest spaces behind the building. According to SOFA 2 and Municipal Code requirements, projects with extremely low and very low income units are allowed parking reductions if a Transit Demand Management (TDM) plan is prepared. Reductions are allowed in the Code because statistics show that the targeted resident population owns fewer cars than higher income residents. The Code requires the Project to have 53 parking spaces total; the project exceeds that number by 13 spaces.

Is this project too big and too dense?
No. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) unanimously supported this project at this location. As the Comprehensive Plan emphasizes, there is a great need for affordable rental housing in Palo Alto. The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for this project is similar to the neighboring 800 High Street private condominium building. Higher density residential developments near transit, like this project, help support transit use. This is an ideal location for higher density housing. The project is 49-feet high, the same height as 800 High Street.

Is the location dangerous for children?
No. The ARB was supportive of family housing in this location. Although the Homer Avenue/Alma Street corner is busy, it is much less busy than many downtown-housing locations in other urban and suburban environments. There will be one main entrance to the building through the lobby adjacent to the on-site manager's office, so children will not have direct access to the streets from units. Common outdoor and indoor spaces for families and children are described below.

Is there enough common open space for the residents?
Yes. The project will provide a 2,428 square foot walled outdoor courtyard off the alley near Homer Avenue that will include a children's play area, areas for families and large planters with trees and landscaping. There also is a 395 square foot terrace overlooking Homer on the second floor adjacent to the laundry room. The major anticipated funding source, 9% Tax Credits, requires outdoor play/recreation facilities that are suitable and available to all tenants. Additionally, the project will have a 1,074 square foot community room with a kitchen and a 278 square foot computer classroom. These facilities are used for family activities and events, after school programs for children and computer classes for children and adults. These spaces, plus manager and service coordinator offices and the lobby, well exceed the 9% Tax Credit requirement of 1,000 square feet total of interior common space for a development of this size.

What services will be available to the resident families?
Eden Housing Resident Services, Inc. will provide after school programs, computer classes, financial literacy, ESL, and other learning opportunities for children and adults. A full time resident manager will be available to resolve any housing related issues. The services staff will also assist residents secure other needed human services from local community organizations.

Has the School District planned for additional children from this development?
Yes. We have met with Bob Golton, Business Manager of the Palo Alto Unified School District. He noted that the District has anticipated 35 children of school age living in this location, and this number is reflected in the Environmental Impact Report. The PAUSD reports that the number of children in nearby Addison Elementary School did not increase this year as much as was projected and all children were accommodated. Because of Palo Alto's requirement that current residents be given a preference for Below Market Rate units, we anticipate many of the school age children will already be enrolled in Palo Alto schools.

What are the financing sources for the project?
The targeted financing sources for the project are:

Low-Income Housing Tax Credits $12,440,815
City of Palo Alto (In Lieu Fees for Inclusionary Housing) 6,300,000
Stanford General Use Permit Funds 5,400,000
Permanent Mortgage (private lender) 529,373
Santa Clara County Housing Trust 500,000
Community Working Group 500,000
Mental Health Services Act Capital Grant 500,000
Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program Funds 490,000
Mental Health Services Act Operating Subsidy 500,000
Low-Income Housing Tax Credit General Partner 1,244
Deferred Developer Fee 200,000
Fundraising 2,000,000
Total $29,361,432

Who are the organizations involved in the development?
801 Alma is being developed by two experienced nonprofit organizations Community Working Group and Eden Housing. Community Working Group (CWG) is a tax exempt organization based in Palo Alto and is the developer of the successful Opportunity Center, an affordable housing and services development for the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless, located on Encina Way behind Town and Country Village. To make that project possible, CWG raised $9 million in private donations. They also own a small apartment complex, Alma Garden, further south on Alma Street.

Eden Housing is a regional affordable housing developer that has built more than 5,500 affordable housing units in the 42 years since it was founded. Eden Housing stands out as one of the most productive and successful nonprofit affordable housing developers in California and was recently recognized by Affordable Housing Finance Magazine as one of the Top 50 Affordable Housing Developers in the United States. Eden Housing is a fully integrated nonprofit development corporation with two subsidiary companies that provide property management and resident services. One of Eden's most recent projects in the mid-peninsula area is Nugent Square a 32-unit family apartment complex on University Avenue in East Palo Alto.

Background | Need | Targeted Resident Population | Design | Facilities and Services | Contact

Community Working Group
2507-A Alma Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Phone: 650 299-8700 Email: cwg@communityworkinggroup.org

The Community Working Group is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
All donations are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by law.