Kaiser $1 million grant keeps housing project moving forward
The national Board of Directors of Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit, integrated health care system, have announced a grant of $1million to Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) to enable the new Affordable Student Housing project on the Santa Rosa campus, continuing its commitment to improve health in the communities it serves.
Dr. Frank Chong, President/Superintendent said, “We are beyond grateful for this tremendous gift from Kaiser Permanente. This partnership and funding will provide support for housing and education in our community for generations to come.”
This project was initiated by Santa Rosa Junior College following the 2017 Tubbs fire that devastated Sonoma County, destroying more than 5,000 structures and affecting nearly 1,000 SRJC students who lost homes, exacerbating the struggles of a community already dealing with exorbitant housing prices and widespread homelessness. Student housing insecurity became a major concern for SRJC, and the results of a 2018 feasibility study performed by Scion Advisory Services showed strong demand for student housing on the Santa Rosa campus. In the meantime, the community has continued to contend with crises, including devastating floods, blackouts, more wildfires and evacuations, and now the immeasurable consequences of a global pandemic.
In order to expedite the project and provide the necessary financing, SRJC chose to pursue a public-private-partnership model with Servitas Collegiate Real Estate Services as the student housing developer partner and National Campus and Community Development Corporation as the tax-exempt borrower.
The project has been carefully vetted over two years, and is currently in final review by the California Division of the State Architects.
However, local fires caused escalation in construction costs, and the project stalled once its budget was surpassed. Efforts were made to reduce costs through value engineering, but a significant gap remained. This grant from KP has come at a pivotal time, and will have an enormous impact as it allows the project to move forward. Groundbreaking is anticipated in December of 2020.
“Kaiser Permanente recognizes the turmoil our North Bay communities have faced with the devastating wildfires, evacuations and other natural disasters that have left many people without homes or a way to afford basic necessities,” said Tom Hanenburg, interim president of Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “We are supporting the health of these communities by investing in long-term infrastructure, affordable housing and services that will help them rebuild, recover and move on with their lives.”
J Mullineaux, Executive Director of the SRJC Foundation said, “This generous gift won’t just fund a building – it lays the foundation for fundraising to help subsidize rental costs and other essential needs the future residents may encounter.” The SRJC Foundation is offering naming opportunities and actively pursuing matching funds from other major donors for an endowment to provide perpetual support.