The decision came after the city put out a "notice of funding availability" to affordable housing providers to say that money in its below-market-rate fund is available for worthy projects. According to staff, the city received three proposals, including the HIP Housing project. The other two, from Habitat for Humanity and MidPen Housing, are set to come to the council at a later date and are estimated to cost a total of $10.3 million.
The city had a total of $17.2 million in the fund as of Feb. 18, according to staff.
The $5.5 million in city funding will help purchase two, two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom apartments housed in two buildings at 6 to 8 Coleman Place in Menlo Park's District 3 and cost a total of $7.45 million. The rest of the funds are expected to be covered by private bank loans and donations.
Comfort Harr told the council that the nonprofit looks for properties that have specific characteristics when considering which homes to preserve for affordable housing. They should be located in areas near services; offer between six and 16 housing units so as to be within reach of purchase on short notice; be in good, well-maintained condition; and have tenants who likely already qualify for affordable housing, since otherwise the owner is required to pay property taxes. In addition, the seller needs to be interested in working with nonprofits, because generally they need more time than a traditional property buyer to pull together funding from multiple sources.
The properties at 6 to 8 Coleman Place met all of those qualifications, plus the buildings offer a pair of two-bedroom apartments, which can be hard to find in San Mateo County and represent important housing options for families, she said.
In response to questions from council members, Comfort Harr noted that HIP Housing would be open to considering programs to add some energy-efficient features and to consider making one or two of the units available for purchase.
Priority to live in the new units will go to people who live or work in Menlo Park, or have been displaced from the community.
Go to is.gd/mpbmr to learn more about the city's below-market-rate housing program.
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