Urban agricultural housing project advances in Santa Clara

An innovative housing project in Santa Clara that will include a large urban farm will be ready to welcome tenants in 2023, officials said Thursday.

A one-of-a-kind project, Agrihood will span 5.8 acres of land and include 160 mixed-income apartments, 165 low-income seniors and veterans homes, and 36 townhouses. The complex, located at N. Winchester Blvd across from Westfield Valley Fair, will feature a 1.5 acre urban farm where residents will be able to grow produce.

The new housing comes as authorities estimate the number of elderly homeless residents will triple nationwide over the next decade.

“The economic fallout from the pandemic has created more affordable housing problems for seniors in one of the most expensive areas across the country,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “As the baby boomers age, we will continue to build homes with permanent support services and Agrihood could very well be the gold standard. “

The project will run for 26 months and applications for housing will open in the summer of 2023, Chris Neale, vice president of The Core Companies, told San José Spotlight. Core Companies is the real estate development and construction company building the project.

“As we get back to normal after the pandemic, our goal is to create a place where residence and neighbors feel welcome and in community with each other,” Neale said Thursday.

Agrihood accounts for about 10% of Santa Clara’s social housing target, according to previous estimates from Vince Cantore, vice president of development at Core Companies.

Through partnerships with San Jose and local affordable housing organizations, the county’s supportive housing office will connect homeless people with a housing program to place them inside the complex.

In a 2019 survey by the county office for supportive housing, 40% of respondents who experienced homelessness were 51 or older.

Agrihood will be the county’s first mixed-income urban farm housing community.

“It’s something we should be celebrating here in the heart of Silicon Valley,” Kirk Vartan, community housing activist and founder of A Slice of New York, said at a press conference Thursday. “We want older people to be able to stay active, engaged and independent. “

The construction of Agrihood is funded by $ 23.5 million of the county’s Measure A funds, an affordable housing bond adopted by Santa Clara County voters in 2016, $ 15.7 million from the city and a $ 50 million grant in tax-exempt bonds from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee. .

The Santa Clara City Council approved the development of the urban farm in January 2019.

Farmscape, an urban farming company in Oakland, will help design and manage Agrihoods’ 1.5 acres of farm space.

Farmscape co-owner Lara Hermanson said Agrihood’s urban farm has the potential to produce up to 20,000 pounds of produce. Food can be sold at produce stalls around Agrihood for residents to buy.

The farm will also feature a community hall, produce stand and learning shed where residents of all ages can learn about farming and grow food on the farm.

“We’re going to have, essentially, an intergenerational hangout on this farm,” Hermanson said.

Contact Stéphanie Lam at [email protected] or follow @StephCLam on Twitter

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