Homeward Bound of Marin and precision homebuilder Blu Homes, with headquarters in California and Massachusetts, have submitted a conceptual plan this week for Oma Village, a new site for 14 affordable family homes at 5394 Nave Drive in Novato.
The plans submitted Oct. 1 to the City of Novato call for one- and two-bedroom energy-efficient homes that would provide long-term supportive housing for homeless families exiting from programs at Homeward Bound.
Blu Homes and Homeward Bound will transform the run-down former site of a 30-bed alcohol and drug rehabilitation center into a thriving village of rental homes with shared gardens, a common room and computer learning center for residents.
Features of Oma Village also will include:
- An outdoor picnic and barbecue area designed to foster a sense of communal pride and responsibility
- A healthy environment with zero emissions from paint or other toxic materials, sustainably forested or reclaimed wood, and recycled steel
- Highly energy-efficient units that incorporate elements such as radiant heat, Energy Star appliances, and high-level insulation with the goal of being a Net Zero Energy community.
- Ongoing support from Homeward Bound’s program staff and maintenance crew
“Homeward Bound is thrilled to be partnering with Blu Homes to transform this property into critically-needed family housing for low-wage earners in our community,” said Mary Kay Sweeney, executive director of Homeward Bound of Marin. “The technology and thoughtful design behind Blu’s precision-built homes makes them the perfect choice for this project. We are excited to see how this new community can play a role in creating a more positive future for Marin County.”
“Blu Homes was founded with the mission of making architect-designed, green homes accessible to more Americans. Our work with Homeward Bound of Marin is a shining example of this mission in action,” said Bill Haney, Blu Homes founder and chief executive. “We couldn’t be happier about helping to provide Marin families in need with beautiful, light-filled spaces that they will be proud to call home.”
This project addresses the need for workforce housing tailored to the lower-income workers in Marin’s robust service economy, Sweeney says. At less than 20 units per acre, it respects the community preference for lower-density development and will give priority to families already working in Novato with children attending Novato schools.
“The purpose of Oma Village is to provide stability for homeless families who are already in our community and to help these children succeed,” she says. Homeward Bound leaders already have met with the principal of Hamilton Elementary School to discuss ideas for shared services.
As a program of Homeward Bound, Oma Village will accept families recommended by staff for making significant progress in the agency’s programs. Families will be required to participate in weekly meetings focused on advancing their education and employment plans. A homework club, tutoring services, and sports scholarships will be available for the children.
Homeward Bound envisions rents will vary from $500 to $600 per month. Rather than paying one-third of income, residents will pay a fixed amount that encourages them to earn more and save money.
The site cost $790,000 and the estimated development cost is approximately $3 million; completion tentatively is expected in fall 2013. Donations that make this project possible include a significant lead gift from the Marin Community Foundation.
“The Oma Village project is one way we are addressing our key organizational goal of increasing affordable housing in our community,” said Thomas Peters, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Marin Community Foundation. “This new, eco-friendly family housing represents much-needed forward momentum, and we are excited to be a part of bringing it to life.” The Marin Community Foundation also provided two loans to help fund the Oma Village project — a $1,000,000 construction loan and a $200,000 acquisition loan.
With Blu Homes, Homeward Bound is embracing environmentally conscious building practices to create affordable housing that will be a model for the future.
All of Blu’s homes are designed and built off-site in their state-of-the art 250,000-square-foot factory in Vallejo, resulting in drastically reduced environmental and site impacts.
Because all of the Oma Village units will be almost entirely finished in the factory, construction time shrinks with on-site work measured in weeks rather than months as expected with traditional construction. Additionally, Blu Homes builds in a controlled factory environment that reduces construction waste and landfill use.
A conceptual plan for water-efficient landscaping at the site is under development.
Blu Homes, Inc. is the leading provider of beautiful and green precision-built homes in North America. The company’s proprietary steel framing and building technology result in homes that attractive, economical, healthier to live in, require lower maintenance, and are much stronger than conventional construction.
Blu Homes is the builder of the Sunset magazine 2012 Idea House in Healdsburg. For more information on Blu Homes, please visit www.bluhomes.com.
Please see Oma Village FAQs (attached) for more details.