Heritage House proposed in Napa

The nonprofit developer Burbank Housing has received a $7.9 million state award toward building Heritage House, which would create 66 single-room-occupancy dwellings at the site of the defunct Sunrise Assisted Living center at 3700 Valle Verde Drive in Napa. Half the units would be reserved for homeless and at-risk tenants, who would receive social services through Abode Services to help them remain housed.

A Napa housing development designed to pull tenants out of homelessness will receive a multimillion-dollar boost from the state.

Burbank Housing, the nonprofit developer of the 66-unit Heritage House planned for a dormant retirement home on Valle Verde Drive, has been awarded $7.9 million from California’s No Place Like Home Fund, more than a quarter of the project’s estimated $28.5 million cost.

The grant, which Burbank announced in a statement Friday, is part of a $1.8 billion state bond issue voters approved through Proposition 2 in November to build and renovate housing for those who are chronically homeless and suffer from mental illness.

Heritage House is one of three projects splitting more than $29 million in No Place Like Home grants announced last week for the North Bay, including $11.6 million awarded to another Burbank site, Caritas Village in Santa Rosa.

“This critical support from the State of California will make real and lasting solutions to two of the North Bay’s biggest challenges: homelessness and the lack of affordable housing,” Burbank Housing’s president and chief executive Larry Florin, a former Napa County housing director, said in the news release.

“As the largest affordable housing developer in the North Bay, we know that generating more permanent homes strengthens our community and allows everyone in our region to thrive.”

Santa Rosa-based Burbank Housing partnered with Napa County to apply for state funding for Heritage House, which is to occupy the former Sunrise Assisted Living center at 3700 Valle Verde Drive.

Thirty-three of its single-room-occupancy units would be designated as permanent supportive housing for homeless and at-risk tenants who would receive on-site social services from Abode Services, the county’s contractor for homeless support programs. The remaining Heritage House units would be opened to other tenants with very low incomes.

The importance of supportive and lower-cost housing in Napa has only grown since supplies have tightened in the wake of widespread damage from the 2017 wildfires, according to Napa County Supervisor Ryan Gregory.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that residents want to see some concrete solutions to the challenges of homelessness and lack of affordable housing – challenges that were made more difficult as a result of the fires in the North Bay in recent years,” he said in the Burbank Housing statement. “As we continue to rebuild, it makes sense to think about investing in the future of our county with projects like Heritage House.”

The arrival of state funding is a step forward for a housing plan centered on a Napa property that has been a battleground between housing advocates and local residents who have fought proposals they have called a threat to public safety in the area.

After the city in 2012 approved an earlier, 57-unit affordable apartment plan drawn up by Bridge Housing Corp. of San Francisco, a neighborhood coalition formed to sue the city in Napa County Superior Court and block the project. Opponents alleged the housing would increase traffic congestion and littering while threatening salmon and steelhead habitats in nearby Salvador Creek.

A judge voided Napa’s approval of the apartments as well as a revised version of the project, requiring Bridge to seek a full environmental study first. The developer eventually canceled its project in 2016 and sold the land later that year to the Gasser Foundation for more than $5 million.

Area homeowners this January spoke out to the City Council against the revised plan offered by Burbank Housing, demanding clearer plans for security and access at the former Sunrise property. Nonetheless, the council approved a $2.2 million loan for Heritage House out of Napa’s affordable housing fund, buttressing the developer’s application for state funding.

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.