New Solutions to Our Housing Shortage

Contra Costa County faces a significant and worsening homelessness and affordable housing crisis. In 2021, 6,962 people in our county were without shelter of any kind. Thousands more face housing instability, and today’s rising housing costs and inflation are only exacerbating the situation. We have seen time and again the positive, lasting impacts when people have a permanent place to call home, accompanied by the services they need to live with dignity.  This combination improves physical and mental health, prospects for economic security, stronger family ties, and renewed fulfillment in shared community living.

As part of our five-year strategic plan, kicked off in 2019, Hope Solutions has committed to building or renovating 50 additional homes for unhoused families and individuals by 2025. We feel a sense of urgency to address this crisis so our supply of available housing can begin to meet the increasing needs in our County.

Progress is already underway. We are studying many potential building sites and exploring options for the construction of “micro home” cottages to multi-unit apartment buildings. The first of these projects is planned in partnership with Grace Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek and Firm Foundation Community Housing. The development will be located in a currently unused parking area of the church, and would include six 225 sq ft homes, each outfitted with a kitchen sink, stovetop, fridge, shower, and toilet.

“Hosting these micro-homes reflects our congregation’s values”, says Grace Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Mark Burnham. “It’s a Presbyterian tradition to partner with other groups for the betterment of society… we couldn’t tackle this project on our own.”

Hope Village at Grace Presbyterian Church architectural renderings

The new community, Hope Village, will also house an office and laundry room, as well as an outdoor communal gathering spot. This project represents a new growth direction for Hope Solutions towards creative, efficient, cost-effective housing development. These cottage communities can be built from start to finish in as little as three to six months and cost only one-fifth of traditional affordable housing complexes. Our model follows the best practice of coupling housing with our professional supportive services. With many communities grappling with how to add housing, cottage communities such as Hope Village present an innovative and affordable option to address these needs.

This summer, we are launching the “Homes Heal Hearts” capital campaign to fuel more cottage communities such as Hope Village. If you are interested in helping us achieve this mission, please reach out to Jasmine Tarkoff, Director of Strategic Initiatives, at jtarkoff@hopesolutions. org. Our success depends upon the strong engagement of congregations and community members interested in addressing this ongoing crisis. Join us as catalysts for change and help heal the devastating effects of poverty and homelessness for vulnerable individuals and families in Contra Costa County.

This article was first published in the 2022 Spring/Summer Homepage Newsletter.