The state will award more than $38 million in competitive funding to two affordable housing projects in San Mateo County, adding 208 units earmarked for veterans and the very low and extremely low income to the county’s affordable housing inventory.

The Strategic Growth Council awarded funding for Bayshore Affordable Apartments within The Gateway at Millbrae and Light Tree Apartments in East Palo Alto from the state Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program which funds housing and transportation improvement projects aimed at encouraging residents to drive less, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. This is the first time in AHSC’s five-year history that funding for both a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and an Integrated Connectivity Project (ICP) is being awarded to projects in San Mateo County.

“This award represents the power of building strategic collaboration between the Department of Housing, the developers, the cities and our transportation partners to design projects that will provide much needed affordable housing as well as transportation infrastructure to help residents travel to and from their new homes,” said Ken Cole, director of the County of San Mateo’s Department of Housing (DOH). 

The County of San Mateo invested $2.1 million to Bayshore Affordable Apartments and $3.04 million to Light Tree Apartments from its Affordable Housing Fund which includes a mix of funding streams, including sales tax revenue from voter-approved Measure K. Cole said securing other funding sources like the $17.8 million for Bayshore and $20 million for Light Tree from the AHSC program is critical to leveraging the County’s share. DOH staff worked closely with project developers and Enterprise Community Partners to engage local transportation agencies and local governments in the application process. Staff also provided significant technical assistance to the developers in designing the projects to integrate the housing and transportation components needed to be competitive for AHSC funding.

Bayshore Affordable Apartments will sit within The Gateway at Millbrae, an apartment/hotel/retail development by master developer Republic Urban to be located adjacent to the BART/Caltrain transit station. The affordable component to be development by The Core Companies, will provide 80 units for veterans, including homeless veterans. Transportation plans at The Gateway include an extension of the BART track to accommodate more train cars, bicycle and pedestrian path improvements and financial commitments to the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and SamTrans for transit passes.

Those involved in the application process said it was a monumental effort by everybody. AHSC applications take three to six months to prepare but the County and its partners compressed the timeline to one.

“We’re ecstatic to receive the funding award from the Strategic Growth Council and would like to thank the state of California, Enterprise Community Partners, BART, the County of San Mateo Housing Department, the city of Millbrae and Republic Urban Properties for their support of our application.  This was truly a collaborative effort and now we’re one step closer to helping veterans find affordable housing in one of the highest cost regions in the nation,” said Vince Cantore, vice president of The Core Companies.

Light Tree Apartments, being developed by Eden Housing and EPA CAN DO at 1805 E. Bayshore Road, will provide 128 new and replacement units for families and substantially renovate and preserve the affordability of 57 units to remain at the property. 

“More than 200 names are on Eden Housing’s waiting list for a unit in Light Tree Apartments. The grant is an opportunity for us to take 91 families off that list and into a high-quality home,” said Eden Housing President Linda Mandolini.

Light Tree’s $20 million in AHSC funds include $13.6 million going to housing development and $6 million to transportation capital funding. The project will include bikeway and pedestrian improvements, a new SamTrans limited stop express route between East Palo Alto and BART in San Bruno, replacement bus shelters and free transit passes for use on SamTrans for 15 years.

“At EPA CAN DO, we are excited to be awarded funding related to control of greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to address housing needs in coordination with transportation efforts by creating a development that models the link between them,” said Duane Bay, executive director of EPA CAN DO.

In addition to the capital funding to Light Tree of more than $3 million, the County’s Housing Authority also awarded 89 project-based Section 8 vouchers to the project which makes will make it possible for 89 very-low income households to live there. The Housing Authority also awarded 18 Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers to Bayshore Affordable Apartments.