On May 16th Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese gathered to join other city and county leaders to celebrate the Grand Opening of Edwina Benner Plaza, an affordable rental apartment community developed by MidPen Housing. The event is part of Silicon Valley at Home (SV@Home’s) 2019 Affordable Housing Week.
Edwina Benner Plaza (“Benner Plaza”) is a response to the tremendous need for affordable workforce housing in the heart of the Silicon Valley where suburban homelessness is on the rise. In Santa Clara County, 7,500 men, women and children experience homelessness on any given night. As evidence of the need, Benner Plaza received 3,497 applications in two weeks for its 66 apartment homes.
Located near the intersection of two major thoroughfares – highways 237 and 101 – and less than six miles from the headquarters of Google, LinkedIn, Intuit, Yahoo, NetApp, and Juniper Networks, residents of Benner Plaza live in very close proximity to thousands of jobs, public transportation, and many community amenities.
“With innovative and creative residential developments like Benner Plaza, we’re providing long-term housing solutions for the homeless and lower-income members of our community,” said Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein. “Like these residents who are working hard every day to provide for their families, Sunnyvale and our partners are working hard to demonstrate real solutions to complex challenges like affordable housing.”
“Despite having a steady job, I couldn’t afford anything other than a dirty, one-bedroom apartment for the four of us for years,” said Eloisa Herrera, a long-time Sunnyvale resident and single mother of three children who works in food service on the LinkedIn campus. “I can’t believe we now have a clean, beautiful apartment that my children feel proud to call home!”
Named in honor of Edwina Benner, California’s first female mayor who served as the Mayor of Sunnyvale from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1938 to 1940, Benner Plaza transformed a previously underutilized site. Where once stood one lone single-story commercial building, now stands a vibrant community for working families and individuals.
“As the City of Sunnyvale led our state in electing the first female mayor, they’ve long demonstrated tremendous leadership in providing a wide range of housing solutions for their residents,” said Matthew O. Franklin, President and CEO of MidPen Housing. “Benner Plaza is a prime example of this commitment and furthers their vision to transform this key Sunnyvale neighborhood into one where residents have easy access to employment opportunities, schools, parks, retail and public transit.”
With an all-electric building that’s expected to achieve a GreenPoint Rated Platinum Certification, Benner Plaza is a forerunner in an effort to zero out carbon emissions in a multi-family housing community. The community is part of the California Energy Commission EPIC grant with the goal of entirely eliminating the use of gas and radically reducing its carbon footprint. Among the notable green features: an innovative central hot water system which uses electric heat pumps instead of gas and eliminates carbon-intensive on-site combustion in favor of super-efficient electric processes that can be powered by 100% clean, renewable energy; a rooftop solar array that covers 50% of the total energy consumed on site; water-efficient fixtures and landscaping; zero-VOC paint; low-VOC flooring; and energy efficient appliances. Additionally, all Benner Plaza residents will receive a free VTA pass with the nearest light rail station a mere quarter mile walk away.
Benner Plaza provides 30 one-bedroom, 18 two-bedroom, and 18 three-bedroom apartments for individuals and families earning up to 60% of Area Media Income (AMI) which is $79,800 for a family of four. Residents also enjoy a community room with kitchen, computer lab, fitness center, children’s playground, a courtyard, and secured bike parking. Thirteen apartments are reserved for formerly homeless community members and 10 apartments for those at-risk of homelessness.
MidPen Resident Services provides a broad array of services to empower Benner Plaza residents to advance in all areas of their lives. This includes academically-based After School and Summer Programs for youth; financial capability courses, vocational training, health and wellness programs, computer lab and assistance, and connection to community resources. Peninsula Healthcare Connection provides onsite case management and supportive services for the 13 formerly homeless households. MidPen Property Management Corp. provides onsite professional property management.
Financing for the $44.2 million development was provided by the City of Sunnyvale, County of Santa Clara, the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, Technology Credit Union, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and Bank of America, N.A.
Benner Plaza was designed by the award-winning David Baker Architects and was being constructed by James E. Roberts-Obayashi Corporation.