Nevada County project to house, care for homeless in Grass Valley highlights inter-agency collaboration | TheUnion.com

Nevada County project to house, care for homeless in Grass Valley highlights inter-agency collaboration

Christine Gutierrez, who is currently a guest at Hospitality House, speaks at a meeting about Brunswick Commons. Gutierrez, who said she is a double amputee, spoke positively about the impact the new facilities will have.
Tom Durkin | Submitted photo courtesy Tom Dur

Know & Go

The Brunswick Commons Affordable Housing Project and Homeless Resource Center will be located at 936 Old Tunnel Road, Grass Valley, For more information, go to https://hhshelter.org/brunswick-commons-resource-center-and-affordable-housing.

Formerly homeless and a guest at Hospitality House, William Wallace was quick to turn a common fear on its head.

Speaking at a public meeting Thursday about the Brunswick Commons apartments and the Homeless Resource Center that will serve Nevada County’s homeless population, Wallace noted that some locals worry that “If you build it, they will come.”

“Build it,” he said. “Let them come. Let them come out of the camps, let them come out from behind dumpsters, from living under your decks.”

The affordable housing complex and the resource center will be well-supervised and will offer wrap-around services that are desperately needed, said Wallace and other proponents of the project set to be built in the next few years in Grass Valley.

“It’s a fantastic idea,” Wallace said, calling himself “hopeless and helpless” before he got the shelter and support he needed from Hospitality House and Nevada County’s Behavioral Health Department. “I was given the opportunity to … become successful, my life is awesome. I get to do these things because of the support of the community.”

The response was mostly positive at the meeting, which was held at the Rood Center and showed off the collaboration behind the ambitious project. On hand to discuss the project and answer questions were Nevada County Housing and Community Services Director Mike Dent; Nancy Baglietto, executive director of Hospitality House; Gustavo Becerra, executive director of the Regional Housing Authority; architect Robert Wallis; Grass Valley Community Development Director Tom Last; Nevada County Principal Planner Tyler Barrington; and Interim Assistant County Counsel Scott McLeran.

Nevada County is partnering with the Grass Valley, Hospitality House and the Regional Housing Authority on the undertaking, which as Dent notes, is actually two separate projects with their own funding sources.

Details shared on project

There will be a 10,558-square-foot, two-story resource/day center and a 28,023-square-foot, three-story apartment building. A second apartment building is possible in the future.

The day center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering van transport, mail pickup, lockers and computers to assist with housing and jobs, as well as a kennel for pets. It will also feature a commercial kitchen, food pantry, laundry facilities, and restrooms and shower facilities.

The center will include nine transitional housing units with shared restrooms, kitchen and lounge.

The apartment building will feature 41 apartment units, a 1,600-square-foot community center, a laundry facility, bicycle lockers and racks, a community garden area, a children’s area, a covered picnic area and 54 parking stalls.

Brunswick Commons includes 12 units targeting homeless clients with a mental health disability. The rest of the apartments — 33 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom units — will be for the general homeless population, said Becerra.

“There will be a preference for applicants who live and work in Nevada County, as well as additional preferences such as to residents who are veterans,” he said.

Brunswick Commons will have service providers onsite including Hospitality House, Nevada County Behavioral Health and others, as well as an on-site manager and supplemental security outside of normal business hours.

“We are happy to be able to partner with Hospitality House and Nevada County’s Behavioral Health Department because the target population that we want to help might not be successful without the wraparound services they need,” Becerra added. “The service provider component is critical to this project.”

Baglietto said the services Hospitality House will provide as part of its long-term vision, saying, “It’s part of the Housing First model, but it’s more. It’s meeting people where they are at, it’s harm reduction and it’s being that resource that can get people to the places they need to be, in the way they see they need to get there.”

Fire concerns a hot topic

Several residents who live near the project off Banner Lava Cap Road expressed concerns around wildfires associated with camping and the area’s homeless population.

But, according to the project’s architect, the development will actually alleviate wildfire risks.

“When you develop a parcel, you improve large areas of that parcel where you make it less likely to have fire transverse through it,” Wallis said. “Right now the parcel is a wooded, grassy area that if a fire came through could spread quickly. Once you put in this development, there will be irrigated landscaping, buildings and roads that provide more of a buffer than is provided currently.”

The project is still a good two years away under the best-case scenario, however.

In January the Board of Supervisors voted to apply for a $3 million federal grant to help fund the resource center. Supervisors also opted to apply for around $1.5 million in state No Place Like Home funds that will go toward 12 units in Brunswick Commons. The county should know soon whether those grant monies will come in.

Dent said the county next will apply for low income housing tax credits and those awards will be announced in September. He hopes that construction financing will be complete by March 2020 and construction can begin then. The target move-in date would be April or May 2021, with permanent financing finished by that fall, Dent said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.


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