Marin Affordable Housing Pioneers, Northbay Family Homes, Ending Operations in 2021

Novato, Hamilton Field, Marin, Northbay Family Homes
NFH President/CEO Clark Blasdell with the board of directors: Charlie Carson, Kristie Wheeler, and Paul Simmons.

NOVATO, Calif.–After more than four decades of developing affordable housing projects in Marin County, including the property at Hamilton Field, Northbay Family Homes (NFH) will be ending its operations in 2021.

Over the years, NFH built a legacy based on its commitment to and passion for affordable housing.

NFH’s first project, Encina Court Condominiums, was a six-unit development that was California’s first mutually owner-built/self-help project, in 1978. But Hamilton Field was, by far, its most ambitious and successful undertaking.

Under the leadership of Clark Blasdell and a board of directors, including Charlie Carson, Paul Simmons, and Kristie Wheeler, NFH became Marin’s pioneer builder of affordable housing.

“Hamilton Field (a former Air Force Base) was the crowning jewel where half of the residences were developed as affordable housing, for ownership or rental,” said Blasdell.

Added Wheeler, “It encompassed over 700 properties for low-income families with construction and mortgage financing arranged by us.”

Accomplishments aside, Blasdell reflected on the most recent NFH project. “We have been working on a 100-unit home development for several years. The estimated cost per unit had increased from $250,000 per unit to $750,000, meaning the project cost had increased from $25 million to $75 million. All of us felt we needed to leave those kinds of projects to others with more resources (staff and capital).”

Another major NFH legacy is having successfully worked with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to devise new rules and procedures specifically for owner-built, affordable attached housing. Using NFH’s expertise and counsel, California established a separate program for owner-built housing.

Long-time Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold remarked, “You will find examples of Northbay Family Homes work at Hamilton Field and many other projects around Marin and the Bay. They have also been leaders in advocating legislative rules to provide affordable housing that is so critical to our economy. I thank Clark, the board, and the entire team on a legacy well earned over many years.”

The NFH “scorecard” is an impressive one:

  • Total Investment $154M
  • Total Homes 4,014
  • People Served 9,978

Reflecting the board’s sentiment, Wheeler and Simmons said, “Clark should be recognized for his work. The board was there to back him up and to provide our individual expertise, as needed. I think that I speak for all of us that we were proud to have participated.”

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