May/June 2019 - In This Issue:
Edwina Benner Plaza Becomes a Home in Sunnyvale
Edwina Benner Plaza in Sunnyvale
During Affordable Housing Week we celebrated the grand  opening of Edwina Benner Plaza with MidPen Housing and their partners.  The development got its name after California's first female mayor, Edwina Benner, who served as mayor of Sunnyvale from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1937 to 1938. Her niece, Beverly David, was among the speakers the day of the grand opening.

We first got involved with Edwina Benner Plaza back in 2015 - the loan to MidPen was actually the very first acquisition financing loan we made - thanks to our Affordable Housing Growth Fund loan pool and a great partner in Tech CU. 

The work we did at Edwina Benner ultimately set the stage for our core multifamily lending work. The day of the grand opening we were delighted to see residents had already moved in and we saw a lot of happy everydayness of the lived-in homes - like family photos on a refrigerator and drawings some of the kids made hanging up in the after school program - which is at capacity with 20 kids. 

There's also a computer lab - and those of you who attended #InvestorBriefing19 and heard Sumayia's story about growing up in affordable housing know a peaceful place to learn can mean everything. The building is also being recognized for its 'green' features; even being among Affordable Housing Finance magazine's 2019 Reader's Choice Awards finalists.

Meet Phillip and Marjorie

Edwina Benner Plaza has 66 homes - and we'd like you to meet a family from one of them: Phillip and Marjorie, who have spent more than thirty years living in the Bay Area. For a while his career in construction was enough to keep the couple in a home until work-related medical bills piled up for him. Before long Marjorie's treatments for cancer and a serious car crash made that pile even higher - eventually forcing them onto the street where they lived for ten years.    
Phillip and Marjorie - with their dog Sasha - at home 
at Edwina Benner Plaza in Sunnyvale
Phillip and Marjorie were among the 3,500 applicants for the 66 homes at Edwina Benner Plaza and ended their ten years of homelessness by moving in February 2019. The two - along with their dog, Sasha - consider themselves very fortunate to experience some everyday and ordinary comforts like being able to take a shower anytime and cook a hot meal when they're hungry. 

"It is peace of mind and it is a joy to know I can take any part of our day and make it better if it starts to turn to the other side," Marjorie told us. "Living here has really helped me feel better, and Phil and I are both understanding better about laughter, and it is so healing."

Congratulations to MidPen, the City of Sunnyvale and others who worked on Edwina Benner Plaza and, most of all, welcome Phillip and Marjorie as well as the other 65 families who have found a home here! 
Second Street Studios Makes First Impression  
At the Wheelie Home: Affordable Housing Bike Ride on May 11th led by Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Executive Director and Housing Trust board member Shiloh Ballard.  
In March 2017 Housing Trust   was proud to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Second Street Studios - San Jose's first 100% permanent supportive housing development. We provided pre-development funding for First Community Housing to build 135 homes at the intersection of Keyes and 2nd Street in San Jose. A few months later, we attended a presentation on the site to have a look at the pre-fabricated modules as they were lifted into place to construct the building.

More than a year later, Second Street Studios opened - and the value of these new affordable homes was quickly felt by those who moved in - one of whom was Cecilia Martin, and her journey home was beautifully captured in a Second Street Studios story by Jennifer Wadsworth

Second Street Studios was also a featured stop on Wheelie Home - an affordable housing-themed bike ride organized by The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition - to coincide with National Bike Month and Affordable Housing Week. Cyclists pedaled to several pertinent sites surrounding downtown San Jose and would stop at each to learn about them. The transit features of Second Street Studios - the location is within walking distance to bus stops, bike share stations and to downtown San Jose - were highlighted on the tour, which featured a stop at the large and secure indoor bike parking room on the premises: according to First Community Housing only about 20% of the residents own cars. 

Meet Ralph and Babygirl 

One of those residents is Ralph, an army veteran who grew up in Colorado but moved to California to be closer to his son and to pursue jobs on ranches. He worked hard but a series of hardships had him living in a motor home in 2010, which worked alright until it broke down one day and he couldn't afford to fix it. For the last four years he had lived on the streets with his beloved dog, Babygirl. "I was staying in abandoned warehouses," Ralph told us. "I'd find them and would always choose the electrical room in the back since it had only one way in and out, and I could lock it."  

Ralph, a formerly homeless army veteran, with his dog Babygirl at their favorite spot at Second Street Studios
Through San Jose's Downtown Streets Team, Ralph eventually got connected to the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing, and he and Babygirl moved into their home on May 7. Though it's only been two months, everywhere in and out of Second Street Studios, fellow residents and building staff say "Hi, Babygirl!" every time they walk by. Ralph said Babygirl enjoys seeing more people and is a lot calmer since they moved in. 

He's already found a spot of lawn nearby where she likes to lie in the grass and roll around.  As for Ralph: "I am able to sleep," he said. "I don't have to worry about where I am going to find my meal for the next day. I have a place to store food and a place to cook - it is so different living in a place with a fridge and a stove. And I don't have to worry about being ripped off or stabbed or whatever out on the streets because you don't know what happens out there. I don't know who to thank first for all of this!"

We thank Ralph for sharing his story with us - and we thank Second Street Studios, Santa Clara County and other partners for  seeing this important project through.
Old and New Partners Join to Bring New Kitchen to Hope's Corner  
At the grand opening of Hope's Kitchen, May 15, 2019
Also during Affordable Housing Week in May, we  got to step into the new kitchen at Hope's Corner in Mountain View A lot of time, teamwork and love went into making a kitchen that serves hundreds of our most vulnerable neighbors each week - Google, Sobrato Family Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank and  others stepped forward in a big way. Housing Trust contributed to the effort with a $240,000 forgivable loan. 

Hope's Corner Kitchen Executive Director, 
Leslie Carmichael
It was also great to see friends like Leslie Carmichael,  member of the Housing Trust family Sandra Murillo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian at the ribbon cutting. 

"As our region continues to prosper, people of modest means are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet," Supervisor Simitian said. "Having a single location where folks can get a meal, find a warm place to lay their heads, and get job-training will be a true game-changer."

Hope's Corner counts on donations and volunteers for its efforts - you can learn how to volunteer for Hope's Kitchen here.
Save the Dates! On the House 2019 and Investor Briefing 2020 are On the Way  
Save the dates!
Our 2020 fiscal year started today - July 1 - and before we know it we'll be heading beyond summer and approaching our fall event, On the House. Be sure to save the date: October 7, 2019. And please be sure to follow Housing Trust on social media ( Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) so you'll be able to secure your tickets the moment the Eventbrite link goes live.

We're also preparing for an important milestone: our twentieth anniversary! We have put a stake in the 2020 calendar for March 13, 2020 at the Santa Clara Convention Center for Investor Briefing 2020. As most of you know Investor Briefing 2019 sold out faster than expected and had the largest number of attendees ever so mark your calendar - and we'll keep you posted when tickets are available!

Sponsorship opportunities for #InvestorBriefing20 are now available - please contact Alison Frost at

Housing Trust Silicon Valley
75 E. Santa Clara St., Ste 1350
San Jose, CA 95113