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Affordable Housing Village Planned for Nave Drive

Homeward Bound purchased the site formerly owned by Henry Ohlhoff Recovery Programs with plans to develop homes for low-income families.

has purchased a .75-acre site on Nave Drive with the intention to develop a cluster of small rental homes for low-income working families.

The purchase closed on June 1 for the property at 5394 Nave Drive, previously owned by Henry Ohlhoff Recovery Programs and operated as a 30-bed residential program for people in substance abuse recovery.

Nearby Hamilton residents knew the location as the site where the residents of the treatment program operated a weekend car wash.

Homeward Bound of Marin is proposing to create a village of small two-bedroom homes on the site, along with the potential for a communal play area and small community room. The homes would be rented to long-term tenants by Homeward Bound of Marin, which would provide ongoing support services at the site.

“This proposal will create opportunities for low-income working families as they transition out of homelessness,” says Mary Kay Sweeney, executive director of Homeward Bound in a news release.

Homeward Bound is finalizing plans with a developer to guide planning and construction whereby the existing structures on the property will be removed, according to Paul Fordham, Homeward Bound’s deputy director.

“We plan to tear down everything that’s there and rebuild,” Fordham said. “We have to go through the city’s process for planning and design review.”

Fordham said that he hopes that these units will help towards meeting the city’s affordable housing goals. The organization is also planning to develop them as low-density housing—in the range of 20 units per acre.

“We’ve heard what the Novato community has said about low-density housing,” Fordham said. "The site is three-quarters of an acre so we're looking at 14 or 15 units."

Renderings are not available because the organization is still in talks with the developer but Fordham believes that the project will be an improvement to the site — currently vacant and surrounded by chain link fencing.

“It will be dignified, attractive and upgrade the whole area,” Fordham said.

Fordham said that he feels that the Homeward Bound project has support from the community based on the success of other projects, including the shelter and the at Hamilton.

 “We have a good track record in Novato,” Fordham said. “What distinguishes Homeward Bound is that we provide great support services for the residents. It’s not just affordable housing; it’s supportive housing.”

To finance the $790,000 purchase, Homeward Bound of Marin received $300,000 from the , $250,000 from the County of Marin, $85,000 from the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and several substantial private donations.

Homeward Bound projects a $3 million development cost and plans to launch a fundraising campaign in the coming months. Fordham said that the funding is expected to come from grants and public and private donations. Construction could begin this year and the project is tentatively planned to open in spring 2014.

Following a financing blueprint it used to open the $9.3 million Next Key Center in 2008, Homeward Bound plans to raise all construction funds in advance so the project is fiscally sustainable upon completion with rental fees covering operating costs.

The working title for the project is “Oma Village,” taken from a grassroots program launched in 2011 by the Rev. Betty Pagett of San Rafael.

Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr June 23, 2012 at 03:33 AM
I hope that the city council will not be "recruiting" welfare-felons from the East Bay, again, as they did in the past. Please tell me why Novato needs more low income housing when it already has over 33% of all low income housing in Marin County with only 25% of the population of Marin? Also, please tell me that this property will not be tax exempt, as all other low income housing is already. Maybe without any tax base, we will no longer have any funds to pay city council salaries.
Maria Escobar June 26, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Jerome, I do believe this is yet another real estate tax exempt parcel in Novato. So, with more and more residents moving into Novato in nonprofit housing, without funding for infrastructure, how is Novato going to handle this? Fewer cops, more strapped schools, more people......why doesn't SUNN ever talk about that or Tom Peters from MCF?
Maria Escobar June 26, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Novato Public Schools are getting hit harder and harder and harder
Paul Fordham June 27, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Homeward Bound appreciates all the interest in this project! Like all of our programs, the new family housing village will serve people who are residing in Marin already. Though we also have programs in Corte Madera and Mill Valley, the bulk of Homeward Bound’s programs operate in San Rafael and Novato – not surprisingly also the cities where many residents lived, worked and attended school before they became homeless. The agency looks forward to working with many community partners as the project moves forward and already has met with the new principal of Hamilton School about the potential for collaboration. There will be a priority focus on tutoring and homework clubs for the children is this project. We will prioritize homeless families who are working, with children who are already enrolled in the Novato school system. The idea of this program is to provide support to people in our community and to help them move out of poverty while offering the stability that allows children to succeed in school.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr June 27, 2012 at 08:27 PM
When are you social engineers going to realize that 1/2 of all high school students cannot ever succeed at college, and return trade education to high schools? It is a perfectly acceptable career course to be a plumber, auto mechanic, or landscaper.

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