Keep Fairfax Funky – And Affordable!

Preserving town character by safeguarding affordable, community-owned housing for the working families of Fairfax

The San Geronimo Valley Affordable Housing Association (SGVAHA) is on track to purchase the 10-unit Brookside Apartment complex on the west end of Fairfax to preserve as permanently affordable community housing.

 

Help us get there!

$125,000

Community investment

in affordable housing

begins with YOU!

Brookside Apartments

The Story

Brookside Apartments went up for sale in the summer of 2019. It was marketed as a “fixer-upper” and a “value-add residential investment in one of the most expensive real estate markets in America.” The prior owner had kept rents low, making it possible for working families to afford to live in Fairfax. Staff at the County of Marin’s Community Development Agency saw the ad and recognized that unless action was taken, another affordable rental would be lost.

In August of 2019, the County contacted SGVAHA and asked if Brookside was something SGVAHA might be interested in taking on. “There did not seem to be any other local organization in Fairfax or east Marin that might have the capacity at this time to take on the project,” says SGVAHA Board Chair Suzanne Sadowsky. For the past several months, SGVAHA has been working with the County’s Community Development Agency as well as the Marin Community Foundation to evaluate and develop funding for the property, which contains a mix of six 2-bedroom apartments and four 1-bedroom apartments. SGVAHA has conducted a site review and developed an analysis of the near and long-term financial feasibility of acquisition. The Association entered into a purchase agreement on January 2, 2020 to acquire the property for $2.65 million. Escrow is set to close in April. 

Brookside Apartments is the first property outside of the San Geronimo Valley to be preserved as permanently affordable housing by SGVAHA. 

Mari Nakagawa, SGVAHA’s Coordinator of Outreach and Development, hopes SGVAHA’s acquisition of Brookside will spark the conversation about community self-determination through community-owned housing. “I think a lot of people are worried – and have been worried for a long time – about Fairfax changing, about losing the funky character that makes this town what it is. We feel powerless when faced with things like, beloved businesses closing because of rent hikes or a housing and rental market that stifles diversity and makes it impossible for lower income people to live here. I think we need to start thinking creatively about ways we can keep our communities strong, vibrant, and funky! Community-owned housing is one way to do this.”

SGVAHA is developing the funding needed for the acquisition with grants from Marin County, Marin Community Foundation, Tamalpais Pacific Foundation and a mortgage from a commercial lender. An additional $150,000 is needed to close escrow. Grants from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and gifts from local individuals and business donors are being sought to support the project. Please consider giving to help us save this property and preserve it forever as affordable housing! Donate today.

“A lot of people feel powerless when faced with things like, beloved businesses closing because of rent hikes or a housing and rental market that stifles diversity and makes it impossible for lower income people to live here. I think we need to start thinking creatively about ways we can keep our communities strong, vibrant, and funky! Community-owned housing is one way to do this.”

Why Fairfax?

“Located just over the hill from Fairfax in San Geronimo Valley, SGVAHA is an ideal agency to hold this property. Valley residents shop and socialize in Fairfax and there is a natural partnership between the communities.”

-Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative (Read MEHC’s full Letter of Support here)

Our mission is to preserve affordable housing for the San Geronimo Valley and beyondWhen were approached by the Marin County Community Development Agency about Brookside Apartments, we knew there was no local organization in Fairfax or east Marin that had the capacity to take on this project. Brookside is a 10-unit apartment building. This is considered a small project for larger nonprofit providers, yet we at SGVAHA know projects like these have a huge impact on our communities.

What happens in Fairfax impacts the Valley. Fairfax is “town” for Valley residents. We shop, work, and socialize in Fairfax. Lack of affordable housing in Fairfax affects the Valley. Fairfax workers who commute from outside the County affects the Valley.

Renters make up one third of Fairfax residents and nearly half pay more than 30% of their monthly household income on rent. The current HUD Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Fairfax is $2,720/month. For two bedrooms, it’s $3,339/month. According to HealthyMarin, the poverty rate amongst older adults (ages 65+) is more than twice as high in Fairfax than in the rest of the County. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2019 “Out of Reach” study, which is conducted annually, found that tenants in Marin must make $60.96 an hour to afford to rent a modest, two-bedroom home estimated to cost $3,170 a month. Yet the study shows that the average renter in Marin makes just $20 an hour.

In taking on this project, we are filling a need in our surrounding community for permanent, community-owned affordable housing. The rest of Marin needs a community land trust or like-organization. We will encourage the growth and development of a Fairfax or “east Marin” homegrown community land trust. Until then, we are taking on Brookside Apartments to ensure that its residents are not displaced and rents remain affordable in perpetuity.

Renters make up one third of Fairfax residents and nearly half pay more than 30% of their monthly household income on rent. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2019 “Out of Reach” study, which is conducted annually, found that tenants in Marin must make $60.96 an hour to afford to rent a modest, two-bedroom home estimated to cost $3,170 a month. Yet the study shows that the average renter in Marin makes just $20 an hour.

SGVAHA Board and Staff. From left: Kit Krauss, Dahlia Kamesar, Maya Gladstern, Suzanne Sadowsky, Laura Sherman, Sally Pennypacker, Mark Switzer, Joe Walsh, Laurie Chorna, Denise Bohman, Mari Nakagawa, and Howie Cort

 

 

Why SGVAHA?

SGVAHA functions like a community land trust, ensuring community stewardship of land for affordable housing in perpetuity (that is, forever!)

SGVAHA has a 20-year track record of creating and preserving permanently affordable, community-owned housing in the San Geronimo Valley. SGVAHA has owned and managed housing for low-income seniors in San Geronimo since 2000. In 2015, SGVAHA acquired the Mobile Home Park in Forest Knolls, keeping 19 families who own their mobile homes from potentially being displaced by a private owner. In 2018, SGVAHA was able to purchase and add a new mobile home as a low income rental. Currently, SGVAHA houses 33 individuals in 26 affordable homes.

SGVAHA is a local, not-for-profit organization with deep roots in our community. We were founded in 1978 by a group Valley residents who were concerned, even then, by the rising cost of housing and the challenge it posed to lower and middle income seniors and families living in our community. SGVAHA functions like a community land trust, ensuring community stewardship of land for affordable housing in perpetuity (that is, forever!). SGVAHA’s Board and staff include people associated with a variety of local organizations and service providers including West Marin Senior Services, San Geronimo Valley Community Center, Marin County Mental Health Board, San Geronimo Valley Presbyterian Church, Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative, and Gan Halev. SGVAHA ownership is community ownership.

Why Brookside?

Brookside was marketed as a “fixer-upper” and a “value-add residential investment in one of the most expensive real estate markets in America.” The prior owner had kept rents low, making it possible for working families to afford to live in Fairfax. Staff at the County of Marin’s Community Development Agency saw the ad and recognized that unless action was taken, another affordable rental would be lost.

The purchase of Brookside Apartments means SGVAHA is taking 10-units (a total of 16 bedrooms) off the speculative market and preserving them as permanently affordable housing. Rents will be set according to HUD guidelines. As vacancies occur, units will be rented to low income qualified households at affordable rates, with a focus on housing families.

Acquiring existing housing like Brookside is a cost-efficient way to preserve affordable housing. The contracted purchase price $2.65 million (or $265,000 per unit) makes Brookside Apartments a compelling opportunity to create permanently affordable housing for a fraction of the cost of new development.

The prior owner of Brookside had kept rents low, making it possible for working families to afford to live in Fairfax. The owner wanted to ensure that these families would not be displaced when the property was sold. The owner arranged an in-person meeting with SGVAHA and agreed to give SGVAHA the needed time to do due diligence and put together the funding to make an offer. It is because of this caring, community-minded property owner that Brookside Apartments will remain forever affordable under community ownership. 

It is because of this caring, community-minded property owner that Brookside Apartments will remain forever affordable under community ownership. 

How can you help?

SGVAHA is a small, community organization. We will need broad community support to carry this project through to the end and preserve Brookside homes as affordable forever! Help us make this happen by telling your friends, donating, and showing your support at local meetings and online. Consider hosting a fundraiser in your home. If you are a local business, consider becoming a business sponsor or hosting a fundraiser.

The movement towards community-owned, affordable housing is spreading. Help us preserve Brookside Apartments for working families of Fairfax, now and into the future!

Help us get to $125,000!

$15, $28, $50 – everything helps.

Make your contribution today to save 10 units of affordable housing forever