Affordable housing complex offers residents more than a place to live
In a typical apartment, rent just buys you space for the month. For residents of Volunteers of America’s affordable housing complexes, living is not only more affordable, it comes with a hand up: VOA-owned and operated housing communities offer support and resources that can help with navigating social service programs, employment assistance, financial literacy, health care and more.
“Our housing is service enriched and resident centered,” says Melissa Liou, controller and housing director for the local Volunteers of America (VOA) chapter for Northern California and Northern Nevada. “As the residents move in and we get a good pulse on what the needs of the community are and what the residents need, that will dictate what services and partnerships we pursue.”
Every VOA housing community has a full-time service coordinator who can help connect residents with direct services or can refer them to groups and agencies that can. Through partnerships with other organizations and nonprofits, VOA can be more responsive to residents’ needs. At one of its senior living communities, it has partnered with nursing programs at Sacramento State University and UC Davis to connect senior residents with on-site basic wellness care.
VOA looks to continue providing such opportunities through its newest proposed affordable housing project, the 1212 Village. Slated to be built on Del Paso Boulevard, the complex would create 75 affordable units ranging in size from studio to three bedrooms to accommodate individuals and families.
“What we’re hoping to do at 1212 Village … (is) to have some after-school childcare or tutoring sessions; we’d love to partner with the local schools here. We’re also hoping to bring in, like we have at other properties, the nursing schools,” Liou says. “We also have an opportunity … to bring in a social work intern. They’re usually in their senior year, doing their senior project, or they’re first-year masters (students). They have the education and we can help expose them to community health and well being. We want to provide a learning opportunity for them as well as them being able to make a contribution to our community, so it’s a win-win situation.”
What the 1212 Village needs now is support from the City of Sacramento. In order to compete for $18 million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, VOA — which has already invested $1 million into the project — is hoping to secure some of the city’s funds earmarked for affordable housing
Says Liou, “The City of Sacramento came out with an affordable housing plan and we feel like this would contribute to and be part of that plan in helping to meet the need of the community.”