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Napa County plans to spend $2.9 million to help make a reality two planned affordable housing projects in the city of Napa, even though it must still come up with the money.

Burbank Housing requested $2 million in county funds for the planned Stoddard West apartment complex on Gasser Drive. The nonprofit developer also requested $900,000 for a planned home ownership project on Redwood Road.

The Napa County Board of Supervisors last week told staff to identify county funding sources. Given how many affordable housing projects fall through, two that look like relatively sure things seemed too good to pass up.

“I very much value a project that is ready to go,” Board Chairwoman Belia Ramos said.

Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza agreed.

“There’s a window of opportunity where housing projects pencil out and make economic sense,” he said.

Burbank Housing plans to build the $24 million, 50-unit Stoddard West apartments on 2.36 acres north of South Napa Marketplace, along an extension of Gasser Drive. It wants $2 million from the county to help it secure tax credits from the state.

“The request is urgent,” a county report said.

Burbank Housing Chief Executive Officer Larry Florin said that without the county funding, the Stoddard West project could be delayed or might not go forward. Florin for seven years worked as Napa County’s director of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs, leaving the job late last year.

The city of Napa could pay $3 million from its own housing impact fees to help with Stoddard West.

Burbank Housing also wants to buy land at 2033 Redwood Road from Trinity Education Center. It would build a 34-unit duet home project with down payment assistance loans to home buyers due only upon resale.

It is asking both the county and city for $900,000 apiece to help with a purchase that must close escrow in August. The project has building entitlements for market rate homes and Burbank is working to have this adjusted to a restricted income project, a county report said.

Napa County’s affordable housing fund would seem tailor-made for such projects. Since 1992, the county has placed housing impact fees from various development projects into the fund, with the goal of helping affordable housing be built.

But $4.3 million of the fund’s $5.3 million is already committed to other projects. Another $2.2 million in revenue should be available next fiscal year, but the county also expects requests for more affordable housing projects, such as Manzanita and Valle Verde in Napa, a county report said.

That means Napa County would have to find money for the Stoddard West and Redwood Road requests from other county funds. A probable source is the fund that handles money from a master tobacco settlement agreement among 46 states and the tobacco industry.

Napa County hands out about $1.1 million annually in grants to local nonprofit groups from the tobacco fund for health-related activities. It also has about $7.5 million in tobacco fund savings as a hedge against the day when annual settlement money income might be reduced.

“I really don’t like borrowing money from the tobacco settlement, but these opportunities arise and we need to do it,” Supervisor Diane Dillon said.

Affordable housing has long been a hot topic in Napa. The median home price in the county is $600,000 and average rents range from $1,000 per month for an older apartment to $2,400 a month, a county report said.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.