A St. Helena landlord I know recently had an apartment for rent in town. It was a 2-bedroom, 1-bath, upstairs unit with one assigned parking space. The monthly rent is $1,850 and the landlord covers water and garbage.

Here is a sampling of applicants who ultimately were not accepted for the apartment, but each had a compelling story and need.

  • A young couple whose combined income is $4,400 – rent without utilities would be 42 percent of their income which means they would be housing cost-burdened (see Did You Know? article below for more on this).
  • A family of 5 who has lived in St. Helena since 2006 and currently rents in town for $2,800 plus utilities and prorated water. Their garage had been flooded for weeks and their landlord doesn’t take care of the building. For their family’s safety, health and well-being, they want to live in a well-maintained place. However, five residents in two bedrooms, particularly in an upstairs unit, wasn’t the preferred choice for the landlord out of regard for the other tenants in the building.
  • Four young adults all working in local hospitality businesses with glowing references. Together they earn over $10,000 per month, but four cars were not acceptable for the limited parking.

For the landlord, it was especially difficult to deny applicants who are living in inadequate or substandard housing!

There are so many people among us whose stories can help us understand the great need for affordable and well-maintained housing. It helps if we interact with people we encounter to understand their lives and challenges. This understanding can motivate us to work together to provide housing opportunities for those who make our community thrive.

– Jennifer La Liberte, Executive Director

We’re preparing our next project — 10 rental units at the Pope Street Workforce Housing project.

And we need your help.

In 2022, we received an anonymous donation of $250,000 to support the construction of this project, and the donor has requested OTSH raise a dollar-for-dollar match.

The Gasser Foundation has generously pledged $100,000 to the match, contingent on OTSH demonstrating a commitment for the remainder.

That means we need to raise $150,000! Thanks to your support, we’ve raised $7,740 so far.

Thank you to our generous matching donors: Kelly Berryman, Monsignor John Brenkle, Gasser Foundation, Rick & Elaine Jones, Barbara Oliver, Polly Ogden, William Savage, Libby Shafer, and the United Methodist Church of St Helena!

To help this important cause, please click the button below to make a donation, or mail a check to Our Town St. Helena, PO Box 94, St. Helena, CA. 94574, and note “Pope Street” on your check.

Here’s Why It Takes So Long and Costs So Much to Build Affordable Housing for Working Families

our town st helena building affordable housing at Brenkle court

Developing affordable housing is more expensive and takes longer to build than market-rate homes. But why?

Click HERE to learn about the major challenges OTSH faces as we develop our Pope Street Workforce Housing project (10 units) and the Fountain Street project (approximately 40 units).

Did you know?

We’re #1… in housing “cost burden,” meaning households are spending more than 30% of their earnings on housing costs. In a state where almost half the residents are renters, they must:

  • Earn over $30 per hour to afford a studio apartment
  • Work 88 hours per week in a minimum-wage job to afford a 1-bedroom apartment
  • Work 109 hours per week in a minimum-wage job to house their family in a 2-bedroom apartment. That’s over 15 hours every day!

Interested in building an ADU?

Here’s one way YOU can take part in solving the affordable housing crisis!

The Napa Sonoma ADU Center helps local homeowners with the building process for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) with the end goal of creating more affordable workforce housing.

The Center’s new pre-reviewed plans program makes it easier to find ADU designs and go through the development review process, saving time and money and connecting ADU designers, architects, and prefab companies with potential customers. It also helps jurisdictions respond to community housing needs.

Staff from jurisdictions across Napa and Sonoma counties helped review and score each plan based on criteria that included cost, privacy, context, compatibility, adaptability, accessibility, and sustainability. Over 15 ADU plans are available for homeowners in St. Helena!

Visit the plans gallery to see options that have been pre-reviewed for compliance with building codes in St. Helena and the greater Valley.

Our Town St. Helena is grateful to our strategic partners. We can’t do it without you!

OTSH relies on grants to support its operations and activities. We would like to publicly acknowledge and thank our generous 2021 strategic partners, without whom we cannot do this important work!

Burbank Housing
Carpy Family Foundation
City of St. Helena
Community Projects
Gasser Foundation
Phelps Family / Vineyard Fund
Mechanics Bank
Napa Valley Community Housing
Napa Valley Community Foundation
Peter & Christy Palmisano
The Prairie Foundation
Wells Fargo Bank
Windy Bay Foundation
Wine Country Consultants

Our Town St. Helena is funded by community donations and grants. 100% of all donations are used for educating the community on the need and identifying and developing a variety of housing opportunities to keep local workers, young families and seniors in our town.

Donate today.