What do you do when you can’t find affordable housing near your job? You find the next best option. For 78 percent of the people working in St. Helena, that means commuting.

Aerial view of a two-lane highway through a small town.

Thirty percent of St. Helena’s workforce commutes from the city of Napa, about 38 miles round-trip.  For almost 20 percent of St. Helena’s workers, commuters from the counties of Lake, Sonoma, and Solano, there’s a lot more time on the road… and a LOT more greenhouse gasses going into our atmosphere. 

An average commuter vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, assuming an average of about 30 miles driven daily. 

Based on data from 2018, U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) transportation emissions made up 28 percent of the country’s GHG emissions. For St. Helena, that amount was 58 percent. 

We need these people in our town, not just working here, but living here. 

These workers are performing important daily functions that sustain and grow St. Helena. They work in the fastest-growing sectors of our local economy – agriculture, hospitality, and retail – industries that will likely be adversely affected by climate change. 

We know that affordable housing in St. Helena is scarce. For example, the Stonebridge housing complex provides homes for about 500 community members (about 8 percent of the population in St. Helena). Their waiting list? Five years.

The demand for affordable housing is here. Our Town St. Helena is working hard to develop new housing. We have approximately 50 units in the predevelopment pipeline, and preserve existing housing in St. Helena by purchasing and placing long-term deed restrictions on rental properties. But we are a small non-profit and our success depends on generosity from others.

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