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I read with great interest about the success of the recently completed Stoddard West apartment complex. Kudos to all involved in the effort – in particular Burbank Housing and the Gasser Foundation.

That being said, it’s important for your readers to understand that this is not a sustainably replicable model as they’re pondering potential solutions for the housing crunch in the Napa Valley.

If details in your reporting are accurate, tenant rents will go toward servicing total project debt of a mere $3 million, or $60,000 per unit. This compares to a total project cost of $25 million, or $500,000 per unit. Based on the financial details in your report, this project is a gift, pure and simple. A gift from Burbank Housing, the Gasser Foundation and taxpayers – for which Napa should be grateful.

But how replicable is this project? Who is the next Burbank/Gasser combination willing to “gift” 50 affordable housing units? How many Stoddard West projects are needed to make a dent in the housing supply/demand imbalance?

An even more fundamental question is what factors are causing basic apartment units to cost $500,000 per unit to plan, develop and construct? 

The Napa Valley Register has devoted considerable time and column-inches to the area's housing challenges, but solutions are slow in the making and too few to make a significant difference. Seems to me it’s past time for voters to hold elected leaders accountable.

Louis Robichaux

Highland Village, Texas

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