Affordable Housing Projects

our town st helena Gustavo at work, building his home at Brenkle Court
Brenkle Court

Watch the KPIX video, Self-Help Workers in St. Workers Build their Own Homes.  This video tells the story of eight local families building their homes at Brenkle Court.

Volunteer with OTSH: Contact Project Manager Larry Vermeulen,


Thanks to a USDA Rural Development loan and financial assistance from the City of St. Helena and Napa County, eight income-qualified families are helping build their own homes at 684 McCorkle Street. This is a self-help housing program; the homeowners are responsible for 65% of the work building their homes.

Brenkle Court

A USDA Rural Development
Mutual Self-Help Project

our town st helena jose at work

A Mutual Self-Help Housing Program sponsored by USDA Rural Development 

Brenkle Court is named in honor of Father John Brenkle, retired pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church and a longtime housing advocate in the Napa Valley.

The mutual self-help program provides home ownership opportunities for low-income working families who might otherwise be unable to qualify for financing. Interested families provide details on income, expenses, debt, savings and other details to determine if they meet the criteria. After a rigorous qualification process, those chosen to participate have agreed to devote 35 hours of labor per family/week until the completion of all Brenkle Court homes. Everyone moves in at the same time.

A professional construction manager handles budget, orders materials, schedules professional subcontractors, instructs applicants in construction skills and oversees the program to assure all of the homes are built to approved specifications.

Education is an important part of the Mutual Self-Help Program

Home ownership education is a critical part of the Mutual Self-Help Program and includes important information on money management, banking, budgeting, the proper use of credit, real-estate terminology, home safety, preventing identity theft, basic home maintenance and being a good neighbor.

USDA Rural Development provided the low-interest mortgages for the homeowners 

Additional financial support for the project comes from the City of St. Helena, who donated the land and waived development fees, and the County of Napa. Rural Community Assistance Corporation is providing technical support and financing.

Our Town St. Helena has technical assistance funds to build eleven more townhomes and is looking for land in St. Helena on which to develop the second phase of the project.

Please contact us at if you know of potential properties, would like to make a donation, donate tools or equipment or get involved with Our Town St. Helena.

Brenkle Court is expected to be completed in Summer 2022.

Download Fact Sheet on Brenkle Court

Pope Street 
Workforce Village

ourtownsthelena affordable housing on pope street

Pope Street Workforce Village

OTSH purchased the property at 963 Pope St. using a Charitable Sale strategy. We have a lovely home that we rented to an income-qualified single mom, and there’s room to add 3-4 rental units in the area behind the home.

By the end of 2019, we rented the home to an income-qualified single mother and selected an architect who has experience designing low-income housing.

We deployed a Charitable Sale strategy to purchase this home

By employing a Charitable Sale strategy  which includes significant reductions in capital gains and income tax, the seller came out ahead and Our Town St. Helena was able to purchase the property at a deep discount.

Once constructed, all units will be available for individuals, families and seniors making between approximately $40,000 to $100,000 annual income. Our Town St. Helena will own and manage the rental units long term. Low- to moderate-income families will live in a small “workforce village”.

Expanding Pope Street project to include adjacent property

In 2021, OTSH closed escrow on 951 Pope Street, the property adjacent to our current property at 963 Pope. Joining the two lots will allow us to double the project size from five to approximately ten units. Located two blocks from Main Street, our “workforce village” will  provide two-bedroom, one-bath, income-qualified rental units in duplexes and single-family dwellings. The project will be energy- and water-efficient and include adequate parking.

our town st helena: Expanding Pope St. Workforce Village

Christine Apartments on Hunt Avenue

OTSH Christine Apts add 4 units of affordable housing

OTSH acquired the Christine apartments located at 723 Hunt Avenue in summer 2021. We have put a 55-year deed restriction on the building, which requires rents not to exceed levels that are affordable to local workers and families for generations to come. Three long-term tenants and one new family are now assured that their rents will stay affordable, something that is a greater challenge as real estate prices continue to soar. OTSH purchased the building at market rate using a Community Development Building Grant which was awarded through the City of St. Helena. 

We are interested in purchasing additional local properties so that we can preserve housing that is affordable to those vital to our community.