Sisters of the Holy Family, Abode Services Bring Affordable Housing Project to Fremont

October 22nd, 2016

Abode Services, a Fremont-based nonprofit group working to end homelessness, has partnered with local organizations to build 59 new affordable housing units in central Fremont.

This City Center Apartments project stems from a creative partnership between Abode, Sisters of the Holy Family, and private-sector builder Robson Homes. The affordable housing development would deliver much-needed housing and social services to central Fremont, and is exactly what the Sisters of the Holy Family envisioned two years ago when they began spearheading the effort.

When the Sisters of the Holy Family sold part of their Mission San Jose land in late 2014 to Robson Homes for market rate housing, they wanted to ensure that affordable housing fees generated from the sale would be used quickly to directly help Fremont residents.

“One of our most important objectives was to see the nearly $4 million in affordable housing fees used in a way that would have the most benefit for our community,” said Sister Gladys Guenther, the Sisters’ congregational president. “We wanted to see an affordable housing project come to life, and we recognized that a market rate housing project could be a vehicle for creating more affordable housing.” 

The Sisters of the Holy Family formed in San Francisco in 1872 to help people struggling in the aftermath of the Gold Rush. Congregation members have lived on their Mission San Jose district property since 1948, continuing their original charitable mission. With the goal of honoring their Fremont tradition and history of charity, the Sisters asked Robson Homes to use their expertise in land acquisition and entitlement to find a suitable site for affordable housing. The Bay Area home builder responded by providing seed capital and assigning its option on Fremont land it controls for Abode’s City Center Apartments project. The site - located along Fremont Boulevard, one block north of Mowry Avenue - is on Fremont’s major transit corridor and is in walking distance to BART, health care, and other services. 

Affordable housing fees from Robson Homes’ Hobbs project in Fremont’s Mission San Jose district – totaling about $5 million – also will provide critical funding for Abode’s City Center Apartments development. The Hobbs project will go before the City Council later this year.

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison and the City Council deserve credit for taking proactive steps to address the city’s housing and homelessness crisis, which has worsened because of a strengthening economy and rising rents, according to the development’s partnering organizations.

“I appreciate the private and nonprofit partnership working together to bring more affordable housing to support the Fremont community,” Harrison said.

Louis Chicoine, Abode Services’ executive director, said he is excited to follow the lead of city officials and continue Abode’s mission to end homelessness by combining permanent supportive housing with social services. “We believe everyone should have a home, especially in the Bay Area - one of the nation’s most prosperous regions,” Chicoine said. “I’m very excited to bring this project forward in Fremont, where Abode Services began its work nearly 30 years ago.” 

Abode’s City Center Apartments complex will have 59 units, including one onsite manager’s apartment. Abode’s supportive services staff will be onsite five days a week to help residents with services that include life-skills training, financial planning, academic tutoring, job counseling and placement, conflict resolution, mental health services, and substance abuse recovery. The four-story apartment building is going through the permitting process now, and the site is already zoned for this type of housing. The project’s leaders hope to break ground in late 2018 or early 2019.  

About Abode Services

Established in 1989, Abode Services’ mission is to end homelessness by assisting low-income, un-housed people, including those with special needs, to secure stable, supportive housing; and to be advocates for the removal of the causes of homelessness. Abode Services, the Bay Area’s largest provider of housing services to homeless people, has provided homes to 5,074 adults and children in the past five years. Abode Services offers programs in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Alameda counties that combine housing and services to assist homeless families and individuals in establishing stability and independence. Last year, Abode Services assisted more than 4,400 people and ensured that on any given night more than 2,000 people slept in a home rather than on the street.

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