Fall 2022
Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments, San Jose | photo Bernard Andre
Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments
Receives LEED Platinum Certification + MFE Award!
Déjà vu! Another FCH building has been awarded LEED Platinum certification! Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments in San Jose has received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) after a long review process. That makes 6 Platinum and 4 Gold LEED certifications for FCH!

LEED certification was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and an international symbol of excellence. Through design, construction and operations practices that improve environmental and human health, LEED-certified buildings are helping to make the world more sustainable.

Geoff Morgan notes, "Our First Community Housing team is very proud to support the formerly unhoused older adults at Leigh Avenue. This population has environmental sensitivities which means they will especially benefit from the low to non-toxic finishes and other environmentally friendly materials used in the building. A LEED Platinum certification means these homes will greatly enhance residents' overall health while they live at the property and the pride that comes knowing you are in a community with high quality, sustainable design. We are so glad to be able to offer this benefit in combination with our other service partners on site.”

In addition to achieving a LEED certification, Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments is a pilot project for the Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree Initiative, whose goal is to improve the health of residents in affordable housing through the use of less toxic building materials. The project is located within 1,550 feet of a light rail station and all households receive a free, annual VTA SmartPass providing free bus and light rail throughout Santa Clara County. 

“Transforming our buildings and spaces happens one project at a time. XXX understands the value of LEED and has shown extraordinary leadership in reshaping the market,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO, USGBC. “The success of LEED is due to the partnership and support of those committed to advancing green building and sustainability. Each new LEED certification brings us one step closer to revolutionizing the spaces where we live, learn, work and play.”

Upfront investment in green building makes properties more valuable, with an average expected increase in value of 4 percent. By virtue of lowered maintenance and energy costs the return on investment from green building is rapid: green retrofit projects are generally expected to pay for itself in just seven years.

Another event (and milestone!) that we'd like to note is the MFE Conference and Awards Ceremony on September 28th, where Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments received the Merit Award in the Affordable category! The jurors selected 34 finalists in 13 categories out of nearly 250 nominations. We are so pleased that our multifamily colleagues honored the Leigh Avenue project with this award.
Geoff Morgan interviewed PSH Manager, Harjeet Reehal
Harjeet Reehal, PSH Manager Discusses FCH's Efforts to House the Previously Homeless
Last month, Geoff Morgan sat down with FCH's Permanent Supportive Housing Manager, Harjeet Reehal to talk about successes and challenges in Harjeet's first year on the job. We recorded the interview and you can view it here.

Harjeet also graciously answered additional questions that help us to understand our residents' needs and the needs of the greater community of our unhoused neighbors. Here are some of the takeaways from Harjeet's personal story and interactions with residents.

How did you first get drawn to your work?  
After graduating high school and stepping into my first year of community college at Evergreen Valley College, I experienced a horrific and devastating tragedy of losing my father. This was very unexpected, and my entire life flipped around in a single day. There on after, my family and I had to face many obstacles and hardships and realized how quickly somebody’s entire life can change so rapidly. My views, values, and perception of things had changed, and I also felt lost for quite some time. I had then realized and decided that my future career path would be in a field where I would be able to assist people that were vulnerable and needed help overcoming crises and difficult life changing situations.

Tell me about the residents that you work with. 
The population that I am serving are all Permanent Supportive Housing clients. These folks are the most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals in Santa Clara County based on the VI-SPDAT survey. All of them have experienced major obstacles in their lives and need appropriate supportive services to live independently and work towards complete self-sufficiency and improve their overall well-being.  

What stories have you heard about how they became homeless; how long they were homeless before being housed at an FCH property? 
The majority of PSH clients have been chronically homeless for many years before finding a permanent housing opportunity. There are numerous factors on how individuals become homeless; including, break up of families, unemployment, being a foster child/youth, mental health struggles, substance abuse obstacles, lack of resources, eviction, and not knowing how to find help! 

Do you find your work rewarding or challenging? 
Every day is rewarding. Looking to have a positive impact on somebody’s life and providing guidance to go in the right direction and being a part of their success is what makes me love what I do. It is also extremely rewarding to be doing work for an amazing organization like First Community Housing. First Community Housing is the best Non-Profit Organization I have been a part of my entire career. FCH truly follows their mission, values, and vision for the communities we serve! It is always rewarding when somebody can proudly say that, “I love my job!”
Jesse Loper, Laura Fredrickson and Sally Adams (left to right)
Promotions and Fresh Faces!
FCH is pleased to announce that Jesse Loper has been promoted to Project Manager! Jesse has demonstrated an amazing ability to progressively take on complex development assignments, becoming a strong independent contributor as well as dedicated (and super fun) team player.

In July, we welcomed new Asset Manager, Sally Adams! We are so pleased to have another strong Asset team member to help FCH manage over 1700 units of affordable housing in our community.

And just this month, Laura Fredrickson joined the team in the role of Communications and Office manager. Please join us in congratulating Jesse and in welcome Sally and Laura! You can view staff profiles on our website here: firstcommunityhousing.org/staff.
FCH is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 77-0119210.
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