Studios at Montero ‘a huge step forward’
Local leaders spoke, the ribbon was cut, and Studios at Montero, Petaluma’s first permanent supportive housing site, officially opened to 60 of the city’s unhoused residents.
“It was a beautiful moment,” said Mayor Kevin McDonnell, recalling the July 13 ribbon cutting event at 5135 Montero Way in north Petaluma, where leaders from the city, county and state housing department – as well as from partners Burbank Housing and COTS – took part.
“This is a huge step forward in the city’s continuing effort to build a pathway to housing,” McDonnell said, adding that the teamwork between the city, Burbank Housing, COTS and other stakeholders was “inspirational.”
The site, formerly an Americas Best Value Inn, is now part of a statewide initiative to tackle the growing homelessness crisis through Homekey, a project of California’s Housing and Community Development Department.
Through Homekey, the city of Petaluma and Burbank Housing received a state grant worth more than $15.6 million to help them buy the motel and convert it into a permanent supportive housing complex.
"Supportive housing“ allows chronically homeless individuals to live in designated housing rent-free and with various supportive services in place. There is no set limit on the amount of time residents may live there.
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, “Study after study has shown that supportive housing not only resolves homelessness and increases housing stability, but also improves health and lowers public costs by reducing the use of publicly funded crisis services, including shelters, hospitals, psychiatric centers, jails, and prisons.”
Studios at Montero had a soft opening May 18 as some residents were allowed to move in, but other units were still being completed, said city housing manager Karen Shimizu.
“What we did was we gave (some residents) a temporary certificate of occupancy, which means that the residential units are ready to go, but they’re still finishing up the landscape and some of the site amenities,” Shimizu added.
In-unit amenities include a kitchen with stove and pantry, and a private bathroom. “All units intended for residents are the same 207-square-foot rooms with no separate bedroom and a single-use bathroom,” according to a city webpage on the studios. “All 60 of the units would be assisted units dedicated to people who meet the definition of ‘chronically homeless.’”
The studios are staffed by a full-time resident manager living on site, and nighttime security will remain in place at least for the first year, according to the city. Burbank Housing is partnering with COTS to provide “comprehensive supportive services to all project residents.”
“Burbank was working with the Food Bank in order to stock those pantries to give (residents) basic things to start cooking with,” Shimizu explained.
On-site case management services, provided by the nonprofit COTS, will also be available to residents of Studios at Montero.
“It’s a big transition for folks who have been unsheltered for a long time, so they have a case manager that helps them make sure they get all the support services they need, whether that’s helping them connect with transit or helping them get doctors’ appointments. Just getting them that additional support,” Shimizu said.
Petaluma’s new permanent housing site is the sixth in Sonoma County to receive funds from the state’s Homekey program, which together have been awarded over $55 million to add around 230 permanent and interim housing units to the county’s system of care.
Amelia Richardson is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at email@example.com or 707-521-5208.