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City Council Supports Homeward Bound Housing Project

$400,000 loan approved to transform property on Nave Drive in Hamilton.

's project to at a property in Hamilton now has $400,00 worth of support from the city of Novato.

According a story in the , the Novato City Council voted unanimously to approve the loan to Homeward Bound so it can develop the .70-acre site at 5394 Nave Drive, just east of Highway 101, and help families ease out of homelessness.

In June, Homeward Bound bought the lot previously owned by Henry Ohlhoff Recovery Programs and operated as a 30-bed residential program for people in substance abuse recovery. The nonprofit plans to tear down existing structures and bring in prefabricated two-bedroom homes to 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, which would provide ongoing support services at the site.

According to a staff report provided to the Novato City Council (see attached), the housing units are to be tailored for extremely low income residents and range from 461 square feet to 1,002 square feet. Homeward Bound said it expects each household will be comprised of either a single person or a single parent with one child.

Paul Fordham, Homeward Bound’s deputy director, that he hopes that the units would help toward 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.

Novato, how to you feel about this project? Vote in our poll or add a comment below.

Bill Wolff August 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Is it the place of the City to be in the loan business?I think not.
Lou Judson August 23, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I drive by this place to get home and to go out. It can't be worse than the previous tenants, can it? I hope some really deservng and responsible people get to live there. How are they chosen? How do people apply? Though it will be pretty dense, as the lot is basically one and a half normal single family lots... Lots better than another aprtment building! Habitat is a good group. Loans by the city are not unusual, and serve a good purpose by improving the community and helping people, Bill.
sheri August 23, 2012 at 05:14 PM
There are so many good people that really need help. I just pray it doesn't end up like Wyndover!
Tina McMillan August 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Building more transitional housing at Hamilton directly impacts the school. Though the benefits of having transitional housing near the agency that manages the program seem like the best possible choice, how much will that agency pay toward education? My understanding is that nonprofits pay no property taxes. It would be helpful if there were money going directly from any multifamily project to the school district. According to the districts website even if the governor's sales tax measure is passed in November all it does is keep our funding at the same level. It does nothing to bring us to a level of reimbursement that would cover the costs associated with running our schools. Again, it makes sense on many levels including needed RHNA, but not on a long term fiscal level in the way it impacts the schools. We must create a revenue stream once a residential project is developed that supports the services it will access.
Brant August 23, 2012 at 06:15 PM
This is a great idea, if and only if the new tenants are firmly guided toward a self-sufficient future life. Homeward Bound needs to employ programs similar to those in place at Gilead House. The goal must be to help people to become self-sufficient, not to make them comfortable in dependent poverty.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 23, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Pray harder.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 23, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Eleanor Sluis August 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM
While I support the concepts and principles of Homeward Bound’s mission, it is the messy details, ambiguities, contradictions, and strategies of how to accomplish their goals that I question. Historically higher densities have changed the capacity of schools to accommodate increased populations unless more funds are spent for new buildings and extra teachers for that increase. Homeward Bound’s site might be better used for retail. The City of Novato and Chamber of Commerce have noted that Novato has only 5%-11% commercial lots available for retail. Is this site better suited for retail? Could Homeward Bound find a site closer to its main housing or more compatible with community identity? Do these units fit into existing neighborhood? Are they in a needed retail district and too close to the freeway? A specific problem is the amount of toxins that exists from diesel, old cars, trucks, brakes and dust from freeways. Studies have shown that Richmond has more lead in animals and thus children and adults who live close to toxins. There are now more cases of autism, learning handicaps, and respiratory problems in children and adults. Remember Erin Brockovitch? Google toxins and freeways. Please send comments to the City of Novato.
Heidi Eberle August 23, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I am very confused about many of the comments recorded here. For those of you who DO NOT KNOW how hard Homeward Bound has worked to place people into places so that they can feel better about themselves check them out!!!!! I have been a resident of Lanham Village for 30 years. I remember most vividly the craziness about Homeward Bound being built. Many of my own neighbors became uninformed NIMBY’s forgetting that we are considered “low income” homes. But as you all know, or hope you know, one had to have a decent job to be able to purchase a home there. And what about Ms. Sluis comment....what Toxins?????? that was discovered ON Hamilton base, not off. Please people before you make a comment, do your homework. We are all a paycheck away from being on the streets.. Not everyone at Homeward Bound has had substance problems. Call and go for a visit. What a treat! You will be amazed at the work being done for all. I know most of you won’t change your mind, but really, if we all work together and not against each other wouldn’t we have a more pleasant life? Also, Ms. Sluis, WE ARE NOT RICHMOND!!
jack alotto August 23, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Jack Alotto Congratulations Homeward Bound. So glad our city council stood up for this great organization and the people and famlies who benefit from their hard work.
Micha Berman August 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM
As a social worker and a person working with the formerly homeless for the pass 18 years, I am so glad to hear about more permanent housing for families in distress. As an employee of the San Francisco Foundation, I was very impressed with Homeward Bound programs and glad to see a nonprofit not only asking for support but earning it with its culinary program and catering site. I recommend folks to check this impressive program out.
r.johnston August 24, 2012 at 04:07 AM
tina, you make really good and thoughtful comments. what happens when someone's boyfriend/grandchild/relative raises havoc/crime in the complex ( repeatedly) but are not on the lease so '"there is nothing Homeward Bound can do." did the city put any stipulations on the 400K gift for no crime housing? the novato schools will never recover. how will the city of novato be financially stable with more and more nonprofit housing that doesn't pay any taxes at all? honest question. i would like to know.
Eleanor Sluis August 24, 2012 at 05:26 AM
An increase in density has negatively affected California schools in less wealthy towns. Schools’ abilities to provide funds for an equitable education for all students decline with less funding for arts, sports, music, physical education, and the basics. Specifically, one may look across the bay and find effects from 10 years of building compacted, subsidized, high-density affordable units. Richmond Schools continues to need funds. Correlate this with lack of jobs, higher traffic, increased crime, fewer businesses, and lower property values. Richmond schools changed from 5% -15% of children having free lunches in some schools to having 85%-95 % free lunches. Free lunches were red flags demonstrating that many of the children who needed nutritious lunches also needed breakfasts, dinners, and home environments, which support education. When students need food, quiet, healthy air, and sleep and there are gunshots near homes, fear of attacks, loud noises, high drama then it is extremely difficult for them to function at school and difficult for the educational system to help them make progress. Richmond, Pinole, Oakland, even Stockton changed when schools could not keep up with increasing needs. I support Homeward Bound, but question the rationale of placing families near constant, freeway toxins. Homeward Bound families deserve a better site, a well-placed site not a potential retail one. Please reconsider the impacts and find a new site.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Gilead is an amazing program.
Tina McMillan August 24, 2012 at 08:39 AM
r.johnston We need fiscal balance. I don't know how we will achieve it without sufficient tax revenue to pay for all the new housing developed. I think transitional housing is best run by an agency close at hand. Gilead House has program for single mom's and they provide not only help at the start but ongoing mentoring. Their housing includes onsite support. This is a little different. I know Homeward Bound has a great reputation in the community. I appreciate your concern about it taking just one really bad, bad guy, to reek havoc but really bad, bad guys can do that anywhere not just in low income housing developments. For me the issue is more one of how we are going to make up for the lack of revenue going to our local schools. I wish these projects included fees to provide revenue for what is lost in property taxes. It's not just the loan from the council its the ongoing expenses that are created when you add more families to a neighborhood of non profits. Hamilton already has a high share of ED students compared to other local schools and is in it's second year of PI. So its like being caught between a rock and a hard place. They say charity begins at home. I think Novato is an incredibly charitable community but now its time to balance our budget. Until the city has the ability to sustain itself every new expense takes away from existing programs. I don't know how we will manage it all. That's the scary part.
Tony Gardner August 24, 2012 at 09:41 PM
This sounds like a great plan that will provide permanent housing for families who are working and increasing their incomes. These family homes will no doubt look a lot better than the rundown buildings now on the site, and the development will be low density. Thank you Homeward Bound for continuing to be a good community partner!
Suzie August 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I'm all for it! This is a great project that will make the neighborhood more attractive and offer much-needed supportive housing for families so that they can thrive. A multitude of services will be provided on site to keep the residents stabilized. Thank you to our City Council for doing the right thing - as a Novato resident and parent, I appreciate this kind of progress.
Kathleen Burkland August 24, 2012 at 11:16 PM
An excellent idea. The city of Novato needs family housing and low, low income housing for seniors, disabled, and people who have little funds. Bravo, Novato for having the courage to support this low cost housing plan. Thank you Homeward Bound for constantly working for homeless individuals and families. Homeward Bound and Next Key are wonderful and they support all people who walk in there doors and ask for help.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM
We are very close to becoming Richmond. That is where most of our stolen cars wind up. That is where the city council goes to recruit to fill their beloved welfare-felon housing.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 25, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Novato already has 33% of all low income housing in Marin, with only 25% of Marin's population. Novato has already done its share. Put future low income housing elsewhere.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 25, 2012 at 12:50 AM
@Suzie. Good. Give us your address and we can put the low income housing next to you. You will notice that all of the potential low income housing sites that were near council member's homes just happened to fall off of the list. I liked the 900 block of Alameda del Prado, but Jeanne McLeamy lived there. Duh.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 25, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Seniors, disabled, teachers, fire fighters and police officers are great potential residents; but they NEVER wind up there. There is ONE Novato PD member who lives in Novato. A nice little old lady who was a friend of former council member Dillon-Knutson lives in low income housing at Hamilton and council member Dillon-Knutson reported that she was afraid to go out of her apartment because of the other tenants, the not-so-nice ones, as council member Dillon-Knutson reported at a council meeting.
Michelle Gallagher August 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
On paper this sounds like an admirable idea, however who is reponsible for doing the background checks on residents?? Currently, we are subsidizing many violent criminals in subsidized housing because everyone says its not their job to vet residents. While I have no problem providing assistance to families who are moving forward, the city especially Novato Police department is incapable of handling more crime. As their dispatcher so callousely said WE DO NOT HAVE TIME for your calls. The multitude of services as mentioned by Suzie never exists for the the neighbors. We are all lefy out to dry when the inevitable problems arise. Once again shame on the city council for their lack of foresight.
Marla August 28, 2012 at 02:54 PM
This is a good program and they offer plenty of supportive services for residents. These will be working families whose household income doesn't cover the high cost of housing. There are hundreds of kids in our schools now who are homeless, think how much better it will be if just a handful of them are able to live in these nice, clean, new homes ith a place to do their homework. It is a much better use of the site then a drug and alcohol treatment center which was walking distance to the school.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 28, 2012 at 10:44 PM
@Michelle, right you are. Shame on the city council. For the Hamilton low income housing, the council actively "recruited" in the East Bay. Is there any wonder why it is full of criminals. If we cannot fill current low income housing needs from Marin residents, why do we need more low income housing in Novato, because the social engineers in Sacramento and ABAG want every California city to look just like Antioch, Richmond, and Pomona. Get active. Throw the city council out.
marco alioto August 29, 2012 at 01:49 AM
The City Council must be in the back pocket of the developers. They are destroying Novato. When you congregate groups of disenfranchised people together crime flourishes. Obvious examples are Wyndover, Bay Vista and Marin City. This kind of social enginering does not work. It breeds dependence and apathy destroys the poor by removing incentive and destroys the middle class who must pay for it. The only ones who benefit are the developers and the 2%.

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