Nearly 300 Units of Affordable Housing Could Be Put Back Into Productive Use for Solano County Families

Temporary Agreement Needed with Travis Air Force Base to Reconnect to Water and Sewer Lines

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Solano County Housing Need:

California is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and the situation is particularly bad in Solano County:

90%

Reduction in affordable housing funding since 2008

Cuts in Federal and State funding have reduced investment in affordable housing by nearly $300 million since 2008.

10,159

low-income homes needed to meet demand in Solano County

Renters in Solano County need to earn more than $65,364 annually — 2.2 times the state minimum wage — to afford the County's median rent.

The Solution:

Reconnect Georgetown to Create Nearly 300 Units of Affordable Housing

There is a simple way to make nearly 300 affordable units at Georgetown available to families in Solano County: reconnect the water and sewer lines. In October 2019, Hunt Companies enlisted support from Veterans Housing Development Corporation (VHDC), a Northern California-based nonprofit that focuses exclusively on developing affordable housing for veterans and their families, to assist with a plan to create hundreds of affordable homes for veterans, seniors and families. The Georgetown Property will include:
  • Nearly 300 100% affordable units with 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms, renting on average for $600-$700 a month less than the average rents for comparable units.
  • More than 45 units for veterans housing, with individual case management and services provided by Nation's Finest, a nonprofit founded in 1972 that serves more than three thousand veterans annually at 29 locations in 14 communities in California, Arizona and Nevada. Nation's Finest is the parent company of VHDC.
  • Housing for very low (10% of units) and low-income (90% of units) individuals and families.
The only impediment to new affordable homes for Solano County families is the inability to reach a temporary use agreement with Travis Air Force Base to provide water and sewer access. Hunt Companies would pay the base for use of the water, which would be temporary, until the project can connect to the city utility system. The property would contract directly with Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, so the Air Force would not incur any costs. Additionally, Hunt would pay the Air Force a fee for use of the water and sewer lines.

Who Benefits

Hundreds of Solano County Families, Veterans, Seniors and Others

100% Affordable Homes at No Cost to the City of Fairfield or Solano County

  • All of these units would be significantly less expensive than the median asking rent in Solano County, and earmarked for low and very low-income individuals, providing affordable housing to those who need it most, at no cost to the City of Fairfield or TAFB.
  • The income limits on the project would provide civilian Base employees, local teachers, veterans, seniors and others with an affordable and convenient housing option.

Helps Most Vulnerable Populations in Community

  • Solano County is home to a diverse community with high need for affordable housing. The County has a large population of veterans and people with disabilities, and over 50% of the county’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
  • This housing project would provide affordable and reliable housing for those in the community who need it most.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Georgetown?

Georgetown was built by the Hunt Companies as military housing in 1991 and leased to Travis Air Force Base for 20 years. During that time — and as it remains today — the only available sewer and water connections were supplied by the Base. Those services ceased when the lease expired, leaving the units without running water or access to a sewer line and therefore unusable.

In October 2019, Hunt enlisted support from Veterans Housing Development Corporation (VHDC), a Northern California-based nonprofit that focuses exclusively on developing affordable housing for veterans and their families, to assist with a plan to refurbish the units and create nearly 300 affordable homes at no cost to the City of Fairfield. The simple fact is, these units cannot be refurbished and made available to Solano County families without the support of Travis Air Force Base.

Are there mutual benefits for the Base and Hunt/VHDC for reconnecting service to Georgetown?

The Base is a neighbor to the residents of Fairfield, Solano County and Northern California. Just as the surrounding community, including local elected officials and businesses, support the success of the Base, Hunt hopes to be able to work directly with the Air Force to resolve this issue and demonstrate the Base’s support for the needs of the community.

Housing costs in Solano County are crippling families, seniors, veterans and other vulnerable populations. With a simple action – and at no cost to the City of Fairfield or the Air Force – the Base can bring nearly 300 units of affordable housing into productive use. An agreement to connect to water and sewer lines would only be temporary, until it is feasible for Georgetown to connect to the City of Fairfield’s lines.

Furthermore, there are statutory provisions that allow for and instances where the Air Force already supplies water and sewer to private citizens surrounding bases in other cities in the United States.

Who owns the water that the Georgetown Project would use?

The water is owned by the City of Vallejo, and the water lines simply run through and into a water tank on the Base. Because of the location of the tank and the lines, the City of Vallejo has indicated it cannot supply its water to Georgetown without the Air Force’s approval. Hunt has committed to maintain all of the water lines that would carry the water from the Base to the project. The Base would not incur any additional costs.

Is it legally permissible for the Air Force to provide water/services to civilians that come through the Base?

Yes, there are provisions in federal law that allow the Air Force to provide utilities to civilians if the utilities are not available from another source and if the sale is in the public interest.

This request meets both of those criteria.
  1. Connecting to water and sewer through the City of Fairfield is infeasible because the nearest connection is over 2 miles away and the water lines would run through environmentally sensitive areas.
  2. This project is clearly in the public interest. All of these units would be rented at below market, affordable rates. This would provide housing to those in Solano County who need it most, potentially including civilians who work at TAFB.
Furthermore, there is precedent with the Air Force providing utilities to civilians:
  • Langley AFB provides water and sewer to adjacent private residential homes.
  • Langley AFB provides water, sewer, and gas to a local school district.
  • Ellsworth AFB provided water to local residential homes and farms.
  • Travis AFB provides water to four local schools within Travis Unified.

Would this project increase traffic in the areas surrounding the Base?

A traffic study found that the increase in traffic from nearly 300 units would not be significant. However, Hunt has agreed to finance modifications to the main access road that would minimize any increase in traffic and mitigate any subsequent safety concerns. This includes modifications to an intersection. A gate on the Georgetown property will also be removed to make the streets more accessible to commercial truck traffic to and from the Base.

Have any concerns been raised regarding security and encroachment?

Per the request of TAFB, Hunt has agreed to pay for improvements to the security fence, including the construction of more than 800 feet of 10-foot high, barbed wire fence to fortify existing protection around the portion of the Base that is adjacent to the Georgetown property. Again, none of this cost would fall to the Air Force. It is important to note that the security fence separates the residences located on the Base from the Georgetown residences. In summary, two residential neighborhoods are adjacent to each other, minimizing any security risk.

In terms of encroachment, the reality is that growth is coming to the area adjacent to TAFB. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Georgetown is already included in the City of Fairfield’s master plan for growth. Returning these units into the housing stock helps the City meet its need for affordable housing NOW. Additionally, the Georgetown housing abuts the on-base privatized housing. The two uses are completely compatible.

Who is responsible for providing police and fire to Georgetown?

The City of Fairfield has confirmed that the project is within city limits and thus is eligible for all city services, including fire and police.

Is the Georgetown Project connection to the Base water and sewer permanent?

No. The desire for the project to be connected to the Base’s water and sewer lines is because it is the most efficient and environmentally-safe way to provide affordable homes to hundreds of families in Solano County. The project sits within the path of growth for the City of Fairfield and once the water and sewer lines are extended to be in the proximity of the project, the project would no longer need the connections to the Base lines.

Will the Georgetown Project compete with the Air Force’s on-base housing?

The only people who are eligible to live at Travis Air Force Base are military personnel and their families. Approximately 9,494 active duty military personnel and reservists work at the Base, but there are only 1,278 privatized housing units. The Georgetown Project won’t compete with on-base housing, but it would provide a lifeline to many Solano County families who are struggling to find rental housing they can afford.

How would the Georgetown project help veterans in Solano County?

According to the most recent Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, on a given night in January 2019 there were at least 147 homeless veterans residing in Solano County, approximately 80% of whom were unsheltered—meaning they were sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings. While the PIT Count provides a useful snapshot of the number and demographics of those experiencing homelessness in the area, it is not meant to be a comprehensive count of all homeless veterans in need of services throughout the year. That number may be considerably higher. In other words, the availability and affordability of veteran housing continues to present a complex challenge in Solano County and throughout the State of California.

The Georgetown project would include 48 two- and three-bedroom units dedicated specifically to veterans and their families, which would go a long way toward addressing the significant challenge outlined above. These veterans would not only have an affordable, stable and secure place to call home, but they would also have access to the commissary on base as well as the Fairfield VA Outpatient Clinic.

Our partner, Veterans Housing Development Corporation (VHDC), and its parent company Nation's Finest, will provide Georgetown veteran residents with onsite case management services and other methods of support. The goal of case management is to help veterans develop the skills necessary to achieve and maintain independence. Case managers will work with each veteran residing at Georgetown to create a personalized service plan that outlines barriers and goals related to mental health, medical needs, finances, education, employment and housing.

What upgrades are being made to the Georgetown units to make them high-quality, affordable homes for Solano County residents?

The homes at Georgetown were built in the 1980s to the building standards at the time. The modernization and revitalization of the property will provide safe, high-quality homes for residents. Some of the planned upgrades for the Georgetown units include: New dual pane windows and sliding glass doors, new or repaired roofs, new or repaired stucco and siding, new sound-reducing sheetrock, new flooring and carpet, new appliances and washer and dryers, new countertops and cabinets – to name a few.

One of the units at Georgetown was recently remodeled to illustrate what the improved units could be.

Who will do the work to repair the units and how long will it take?

Georgetown has a community workforce agreement with the Napa Solano Building & Construction Trades Council. All work will be performed by the highly skilled and trained workforce of the building trades, and will totally approximately 65,000 man hours of work. It is estimated that once approved, the project could be ready to have residents move in within a year.

About Our Partner, Veterans Housing Development Corporation (VHDC)

Veterans Housing Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Northern California-based Nation's Finest (a 501(c)(3) founded in 1972), is a recognized leader in addressing the obstacles that too many military veterans face when trying to secure affordable housing. VHDC’s proven solutions include homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing, transitional housing for homeless veterans, and permanent supportive housing, all of which include onsite services and support that help veterans achieve residential stability and confidently re-integrate with their surrounding communities. In addition to acquiring and restoring existing properties, VHDC and its partners also develop brand new, state-of-the-art apartment complexes specifically for veterans.

Our Coalition:

California YIMBY
Housing Action Coalition
YIMBY Law
Mercy Housing California
Solano Interfaith Collaborative on Poverty
Napa-Solano Building & Construction Trades Council
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of California
YIMBY Action
Veterans Housing Development Corporation
Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California
California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund
Urban Habitat
Vallejo Housing Justice Coalition
Women Veterans Alliance
Faith in Action
Independent Living Resources of Solano & Contra Costa Counties
Fairfield Change

What Coalition Members Are Saying

  •  

    "Connecting Solano’s homeless population to health and housing services is one of our organization’s top priorities. Lack of affordable housing leads to high rents, overcrowding and substandard housing conditions. Solano needs affordable housing projects like Georgetown as part of a multi-pronged effort to house those low-income families in danger of becoming homeless themselves. 288 affordable units in our backyard is a big step in the right direction."

    Rachel Ford, Chair, Solano Interfaith Collaborative on Poverty

  •  

    "VHDC is a recognized leader in overcoming the obstacles veterans often face when trying to secure affordable housing. Our staff is experienced in working with at-risk veterans to ensure they have access to the services and support they need. We look forward to bringing nearly 50 years of expertise and care with on-site, one-on-one case management and other services to the Georgetown project, where over 40 units are earmarked for at-risk veterans."

    Joe Millsap, Communications Director, Veterans Housing Development Corporation

  •  

    "After dedicating many years of service to our nation, many veterans face housing and job insecurity when leaving military service. Some have difficulty finding support networks or navigating the services or benefits available to them. Not only does the affordable Georgetown housing project carve out 15% of its 288 units for affordable veteran housing, it also provides case management and a staff of professionals who have experience developing treatment plans and helping veterans access the much-needed services available to them."

    Melissa Washington, Founder & CEO, Women Veterans Alliance

  •  

    "The California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund fights statewide to ensure needed affordable housing projects are approved, and with the housing crisis worsened by COVID-19, our work is more important than ever. Eviction moratoriums keep renters in their homes during this pandemic, but without adequate affordable housing, there is no relief for those facing housing insecurity in Solano County. Affordable projects like Georgetown can house hundreds of families and have a very real impact during this crisis."

    Dylan Casey, Executive Director, California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund

  •  

    "Lack of affordable housing created housing insecurity for low-income communities and families even before our current public health crisis. Now, COVID-19 exacerbates low-income families’ housing instability and our state’s affordable housing crisis. Approving affordable housing projects, like Solano County’s Georgetown project, are a small but important part of advancing a housing justice agenda that helps protect low-income and communities of color from displacement and allows families to stay in their homes. "

    Cristal Little, Vallejo Housing Justice Organizer, Urban Habitat

  •  

    "It’s not news: California needs to build more affordable housing. Today, 288 units of already-built affordable housing sit empty in Solano County, when thousands of low-income families are struggling to make ends meet. Due to COVID-19, the need is even greater. Overcrowding is more dangerous than ever, and making sure everyone has their own home is critical. In just a year, Georgetown can open its doors to hundreds of Solano families – but every day of delay is another day these homes sit empty."

    Sonja Trauss, President, YIMBY Law

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