MidPen Housing Opens Affordable Housing for Veterans at Onizuka

Silicon Valley, Onizuka Air Force Station, Sunnyvale, affordable housing, MidPen Housing, Bay Area, Onizuka Crossing
Image courtesy of David Baker Architects
Silicon Valley, Onizuka Air Force Station, Sunnyvale, affordable housing, MidPen Housing, Bay Area, Onizuka Crossing
Image courtesy of David Baker Architects

By David Goll

In a Silicon Valley city of famously unaffordable housing, an assemblage of local, regional, state and federal agencies and organizations has joined to provide an oasis of reasonably priced shelter on the grounds of the former Onizuka Air Force Station in Sunnyvale.

Onizuka Crossing is a three-story, 58-unit apartment complex featuring family and supportive housing for the low income on 1.27 acres at 620 E. Maude Ave. It includes 29 one- and two-bedroom units set aside specifically for homeless military veterans. In a city where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is nearly $2,500 a month, residents moving into the same-sized unit at Onizuka Crossing will pay a range of between $200 and $997 a month, depending on their income.

[contextly_sidebar id=”XfOlndkcc8iJWb8XPHrBvwu1haGfS0i6″]On a rainy April morning recently, a number of local and national dignitaries gathered to celebrate the completion of Onizuka Crossing. The group included Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; David Cortese, member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors; Mayor Glenn Hendricks of Sunnyvale; and Matthew Franklin, president of the MidPen Housing Corp., the Foster City-based nonprofit developer of affordable housing projects building Onizuka Crossing.

Castro, rumored to be among a pool of potential vice presidential candidates if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic Party presidential nomination, said Onizuka Crossing helps fulfill one of the Obama administration’s promises.

“One of the administration’s top priorities has been to reduce the level of homelessness among veterans,” Castro said, noting there was been a 30-percent decrease in veteran homelessness from 2010 to 2015. “We have a crisis of housing affordability not only in the big cities, and not only in places like the Bay Area, but cities and small towns all over the nation.”

According to the Military Times Web site, the most recent count of homeless vets was about 48,000 nationwide in January 2015.

Onizuka Crossing, which is being constructed at a cost of nearly $32.3 million, can afford to offer far-lower rents than market-rate developments thanks to a large group of public and private funders including HUD, the city of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County, the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, the California Housing Finance Agency and MUFG Union Bank.

As enthusiastic as he is with the Sunnyvale project, Castro said the continuing affordability problem for military veterans and civilians alike means a lot more Onizuka Crossings need to be built around the Bay Area and the nation.

“I very much hope that Congress sees the need to institute many more housing opportunities for people who are struggling,” he said.

In the Bay Area, that would include most of its residents. Only 20 percent of Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents could afford the median house price of just over $1 million in March, while the $1.2 million median-priced house in San Mateo County in March is within financial reach of only only 14 percent of its 765,000 residents.

According to Beth Fraker, a MidPen spokeswoman, those eligible to move into Onizuka Crossing can make between 30 percent and 50 percent of the Bay Area’s area median income, which is an annual income ranging from $37,020 to $61,700. The 27 one-bedroom units are 555 square feet in size, the 11 two-bedroom units at 837 square feet will have a monthly rental range from $200 to $1,196, and the 20 three-bedroom apartments of up to 1,080 square feet will range from $829 to $1,382 in monthly rent. The latter category are reserved for low-income families.

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