Much Needed Affordable Housing for Seniors Breaks Ground in Santa Cruz

Groundbreaking at St. Stephens Senior Housing, a Development of MidPen Housing

Groundbreaking at St. Stephens Senior Housnig

County leaders, faith organizations, and community advocates join MidPen to celebrate the groundbreaking for St. Stephens Senior Housing, in partnership with St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church.

On April 28th Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold and Reverend James Lapp of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church joined other county leaders to celebrate the groundbreaking of St. Stephens Senior Housing, an affordable rental community being developed by MidPen Housing in partnership with St. Steven’s Lutheran Church. The ceremony begins at 12:00 p.m. at 2500 Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz.

St. Stephen’s Senior Housing represents the realization of a longtime vision to transform a portion of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church property into a vibrant community with 40 homes for low and very low-income seniors in Santa Cruz’s Live Oak neighborhood.

Six years ago as the Church worked with COPA (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action), a nonprofit organization that equips and mobilizes community leaders to affect positive change, they identified the growing crisis among seniors who were struggling with increased rents and at risk of homelessness. Compelled by this need, the Church decided to ground lease a portion of their property to provide a site for affordable senior housing. They shared their vision with MidPen Housing, one of the region’s largest developers and owners of affordable housing, and moved forward to create St. Stephens Senior Housing.

“This is an exciting day,” said Reverend James Lapp. “After years of envisioning, praying and planning, today we celebrate our vision becoming a reality. The St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church family is thrilled to be able to use our land to benefit seniors who are struggling to find housing they can afford. We look forward to welcoming them home next year!”

“We’re honored to partner with St. Stephens Church on their initiative to address the shortage of affordable housing for seniors in our region,” said Jan Lindenthal, Vice President of Real Estate Development for MidPen Housing. “Their leadership has created a model that we hope other faith-based communities will emulate, using their resources to meet a very real and pressing need.”

“As rents within the county continue to reach unprecedented highs and seniors become one of the fastest growing segments of our homeless population, we face a serious challenge,” said John Leopold, District 1 Supervisor for the County of Santa Cruz. “I applaud the efforts of the St Stephens congregation to think creatively about how to meet both their mission and help out the community through the development of 40 new homes affordable to seniors. It is truly amazing what innovative, committed groups of people can do to help out their neighbors.”

Expected to open in spring of 2017, St. Stephen’s Senior Housing will provide 32 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom, and 4 studio apartment homes for low-income seniors earning up to 60% of Area Median Income which is $47,340 for a two-person household. Five of the units will be reserved for senior Veterans and five will be reserved for frail elderly residents.

The community will also feature a community garden, BBQ area, bocce ball court, outdoor exercise stations, fitness center, computer lab, and a community room with a kitchen for larger gatherings.

St. Stephens Senior Apartments is located in close proximity to many amenities and community services including a public park, supermarkets, pharmacies, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Dominican Hospital and bus lines. Residents will also have access to onsite programs and services provided by MidPen Resident Services. These include health and wellness programs like cooking classes and nutrition workshops and onsite health screens and assessments. The senior veterans and frail elderly residents will receive extensive supportive services in collaboration with the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, HUD-VASH Program and the Health Projects Center. All services are designed to help the senior residents to age in place and live healthy, independent lives.

Financing for the $18M development was provided through both public and private sources including the County of Santa Cruz, Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and Wells Fargo.