Regarding the Nove. 20, 2019 Letter to the Editor from Ron and Carolyn Cady ("Valle Verde homeless apartment is bad for neighbors"),  I have to disagree. This development is good for Napa and it will be good for my neighborhood.

I live very close to the Valle Verde project and I too enjoy this neighborhood very much. I appreciate the diversity that the affordable housing on Villa Lane has brought to the neighborhood and I look forward to development of the old Sunrise senior living facility as it has been sitting vacant for many years.

Contrary to Ron and Carolyn’s letter, the Valle Verde/Heritage House project will not be a “homeless facility,” it will be a housing opportunity.

This project will serve many individuals and families, only some of who have a mental illness. It will add 66 affordable homes for individuals earning 20% to 50% of the area median income and 24 homes for families earning at or below 60% of the area median income. That is great news for Napa: more Napans able to afford to live in the community they grew up and work in, less commute traffic on our streets and highways, an increase in the tax base to support infrastructure improvements in the city, and new opportunities for individuals and families to be housed in a supportive and affordable neighborhood environment.

Homelessness is not just a social issue, it’s a health issue, a moral issue, and an economic issue. People experiencing homelessness are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than someone who is housed. That constitutes a health emergency and launches the question: how do we, as a community, deal with our most vulnerable. The solution to helping those who are homeless is housing. The Valle Verde/Heritage House project takes a strong step in that direction

Prior to my retirement, I served for 30-plus years in the public mental health field here in Napa. I have been directly involved in both the start-up and operation of multiple local, state and federally funded programs serving homeless mentally ill individuals. Neighborhood opposition to housing projects designed for this group is always high.

Individuals with a mental illness frequently face misunderstanding, stigma, and even discrimination; neighbors believe they will “cause problems, make the neighborhood less safe, and devalue home prices.”

In my experience, those things just don’t happen. Instead, people who are placed in housing designed to meet their needs work hard to be good neighbors, they live quietly, and they work hard to fit in.

In their letter, Ron and Carolyn accuse the Napa City Council of failing to “represent the people who comprise Napa.” They say; “As is so often the case, the city takes care of the tourists, people with money and their own projects even when the citizens are against the projects.”

I think we should be lauding the City Council for representing all the people who comprise Napa, especially those who have no home, little money, or a disability. By supporting the Valle Verde/Heritage House project our council members have a precious opportunity to demonstrate true leadership by helping ensure our community deals more compassionately with our most vulnerable citizens. They deserve our support.

Doug Hawker


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