What is Caritas Village?

Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa and Burbank Housing are partnering to create Caritas Village, which will include a housing-focused service center, emergency family shelter, and 128 units of permanent affordable housing for those in need. Caritas Village will replace Catholic Charities’ aging facilities on Morgan and A Streets which currently serve 2,000 people a year. This is a long-term solution to the crisis of homelessness in Sonoma County. It will help get twice as many people off the streets and into permanent housing each year.

If this project is increasing Catholic Charities capacity serving homeless people, doesn’t that mean our homeless problem in downtown will also increase?

No. Catholic Charities is tackling the major crisis of poverty and homelessness that is rampant in Northern California. Annually Catholic Charities serves 3,600 shelter and housing program clients which represents almost 75% of all people experiencing homelessness each year in Sonoma County alone. Catholic Charities delivers successful results with 80% of families moving into stable housing from Catholic Charities’ emergency shelter programs. The national average is 35%. Over the past three years, homelessness in Sonoma County decreased by 34%, in large part due to Catholic Charities’ efforts to address and prevent homelessness. Catholic Charities programs prevent homelessness, help transition people into housing and immediately find housing for those in need. With a modern facility and focus on housing people first, Catholic Charity programs will help more people to get off the street and stay off the street. Increasing Catholic Charities’ capacity is the number one benefit of the project to the community because increasing the number of people and families Catholic Charities helps, means people stay in housing, get into housing and get off city streets.In addition, other similar Catholic Charities projects have demonstrated dramatic improvements to their surrounding neighborhoods. For example, The Palms Inn, a permanent housing complex for formerly chronically homeless individuals showed in one year a 77% decrease in law enforcement interactions, a 98% reduction in crisis service interventions, a 45% reduction in emergency room admits and hospitalization, and a 56% reduction in ambulance transportations. Overall the project achieved a reduction in chronic homelessness of 20%, and veteran homelessness decreased 23% in just one year.

Downtown is inundated with homeless and homeless services. Why not build this somewhere else so downtown isn’t the magnet for homeless?

Catholic Charities has operated its family shelter and drop-in center at the A Street location since 1989. The A Street location is the most accessible site for people needing help with access by foot, bike, car, bus and train service. To reduce homelessness and change the dynamic of homelessness, services must be accessible. Rebuilding and expanding our services at our existing location is the most effective way to decrease homelessness because the public knows where we are located. The community is best served by Catholic Charities at its current location where we can get and keep more people into housing with our highly effective, comprehensive programs that decrease homelessness.

What plans are in place to ensure the Caritas Village is a safe environment and maintains safety in the neighborhood?

Adding more housing to the community creates a safer community by increasing the “eyes” on the street and enlarges the community. The new Caritas Center will operate more effectively in a modern space that will allow for a more contained area for services. Catholic Charities shelter and the Caritas Village housing will have overnight managers on duty 24/7. In addition, Catholic Charities currently manages a private security firm that patrols the neighborhood at night which will continue during the project construction and once the center is operating.

What land use entitlements and approvals are required for the project?

Catholic Charities and our design team are completing preliminary planning and programming for Caritas Village. We plan to submit formal planning entitlement applications to the City in Spring 2018. The City will determine the specific land use entitlements required upon review of our applications.

Will this project increase the homeless population under the freeway overpasses?

No. Even in less than ideal conditions, Catholic Charities’ new housing-focused service model helped decrease homelessness by 37% over the past two years. Increasing Catholic Charities’ capacity is the number one benefit of the project to the community because the more people we help, the more people who stay in housing or get into housing and get off our city streets.

Are the homeless people Catholic Charities serves Sonoma County residents?

Catholic Charities records show that 80% of the people we serve are Sonoma County residents at the time they became homeless. The remaining 20% include a mix of residents from other local counties as well as people who are former Sonoma County residents who returned to Sonoma County.

Who is building and managing the Caritas Housing component of Caritas Village?

Burbank Housing, a local Sonoma County nonprofit affordable housing developer.

Who is Burbank Housing and what projects have they built in Sonoma County?

Burbank Housing is a local nonprofit dedicated to building quality affordable housing in the North Bay. Burbank Housing has helped Sonoma County residents for nearly 40 years, building affordable housing for people with limited income of all ages, backgrounds and special needs. Burbank Housing has created over 2,800 affordable rental units in over 60 properties as well as building and selling over 800 affordable homes.

What is the process to apply and be accepted for housing in the Caritas Village Homes?

The goal is to have half of the units targeted to homeless or at-risk households and the other half for low and very low- income households. For homeless households, Catholic Charities’ coordinate intake program would provide referrals to Caritas Homes. For all others, Burbank Housing would accept applications and would establish a wait list based on date of application submission.

How can I get on the waiting list for Caritas Homes at Caritas Village?

After construction of Caritas Homes begins, Burbank Housing will start to accept applications and establish a wait list for the units not dedicated to homeless people and families.

What are local examples of other similar housing projects by Burbank Housing?

Hendley Circle was built by Burbank in the 1990’s and provides 26 units of affordable housing for adults with disabilities, generally psychiatric disability, that are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. All tenants are extremely low income with maximum incomes at or below 35% of area median income. That property is located at 1017 Aston Ave (at Hendley) in Santa Rosa near the Fairgrounds. Secondly, Burbank’s Fife Creek Commons in central Guerneville, at 14119 Mill Street, opened in 2012. Eight of the 48 units at Fife are set-aside for clients of Sonoma Count Behavioral Health that have a serious and persistent mental illness. Most of these tenants were homeless, or at-risk of homelessness, before moving into Fife. Additionally, the Sonoma County Housing Authority agreed to provide rental assistance to 12 Fife units which allows special needs households with limited – or no – income to reside at Fife. Third and last, Crossroads Apartments is a Burbank affordable apartment complex at 1990 Burbank Avenue in SW Santa Rosa currently under construction and expected to open in April 2018. This 79-unit development dedicates 53 of those units as affordable through County-provided rental assistance available to households at or below 30% of area median income who are homeless.

How will Catholic Charities fund the Caritas Village Center?

Catholic Charities is developing an ambitious funding plan for Caritas Center, including a robust capital campaign involving local philanthropists, foundations, and community members. We also plan to use public funding available from local, state, and federal sources and private capital through lenders and tax credit equity programs.

Catholic Charities is a separate 501 (c)(3) (nonprofit) corporation governed by an independent Board of Directors and managed by an Executive Director who reports to the Board. Catholic Charities finances are independent and isolated from the Diocese. By law, Catholic Charities’ fiduciary responsibilities include using all contributed funds consistent with the purpose intended by the contributor.Catholic Charities is not dependent upon the Diocese for funding but does periodically receive contributions from special campaigns of the Diocese, and occasional funding from specific parishes or Catholic organizations. In accordance with the agency’s articles of incorporation, the Bishop of Santa Rosa is Chair of the Catholic Charities Board of Directors.

What makes Catholic Charities Catholic?

We care for people of all beliefs and culture. It is not necessary to be Catholic to receive service, to work or volunteer for Catholic Charities, or to be a member of the Board of Directors. We do not proselytize nor require any faith-based response on the part of those we serve. Our programs are enriched and augmented through collaboration with a variety of faith-based communities, including Catholic parishes, other Christian communities, Jewish congregations, and social services groups.Catholic Charities follows Catholic Social Teachings, which may be summarized as respect for the dignity of the human person, healthy communities that protect human rights, special care for people who are poor and vulnerable, the dignity of work, one human family, and care for God’s creation. We are dedicated to serving those most in need, transforming lives through dignity, hope, and love.