Marin County is allocating more than $7 million to preserve existing affordable rental housing in San Rafael and create new affordable homeownership opportunities in West Marin.

County supervisors earmarked the bulk of the money, $6.25 million, on Tuesday to Bridge Housing, a nonprofit developer and manager of affordable housing, to buy existing apartment buildings at 101 Nova Albion Way and at 845 Las Gallinas Ave. in San Rafael. All of the $6.5 million came from the county’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

“This is the largest investment the county has ever made in a project,” said Leelee Thomas, a county planning official.

Supervisors also approved funding for a project that will result in the creation of four three-bedroom prefabricated houses in Bolinas. Two of the houses are located on Aspen Road, near the intersection of Alder and Big Mesa streets. The other houses are located at 530 and 534 Overlook Drive.

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco and the Bolinas Community Land Trust are collaborating to make the houses available to low-income households.

Bolinas Community Land Trust developed the homes, and Habitat for Humanity will use the county’s $800,000 to cover part of the $2.4 million cost to purchase the homes from the land trust.

Half of the $800,000 will come from the county’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The two separate allocations combined will put nearly half of the entire trust fund to work, leaving it with a balance of approximately $7.5 million. The remaining $400,000 for Habitat for Humanity will come from revenue generated by Measure W.

In 2018, Marin voters approved Measure W, which increased the Transitional Occupancy Tax from 10% to 14% for hotel and short-term rental guests in West Marin. Half of the revenue from the levy is intended to support long-term housing development in West Marin, while the remainder is earmarked for improving fire and emergency services in West Marin.

“I’m really excited that we can combine the Housing Trust Fund and the Measure W funds to help fund this,” supervisor Dennis Rodoni said Tuesday.

The two apartment buildings in San Rafael house a combined 125 units. The Terra Linda Manor building at 101 Nova Albion Way, built in 1962, has 93 units, including 32 two-story townhouses and 61 apartments.

Northview Apartments at 845 Las Gallinas Ave., which was built in 1964 and is located next to Terra Linda Manor, has 32 two-story garden-style apartments. Bridge intends to convert the two buildings into one regulated affordable housing unit.

Thomas said existing apartments are considered “natural affordable housing”.

“Most residents have low incomes and pay well below market rent,” Thomas said.

The planning official said the current asking price for the two buildings is $48 million, which equates to about $348,000 per unit, significantly less than the $800,000 per unit it would cost to build. build new similar apartments.

Thomas said the county’s allocation of trust funds aligns with the county’s goal of preserving affordable housing to prevent the displacement of low-income residents. She said existing apartments are mostly occupied by low-income Latino families.

“This preservation strategy is so important,” Robert Pendoley, board member of the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative, said during the public comment portion of the supervisors’ meeting. “The situation is getting worse for tenants as COVID-19 protections begin to expire.”

Pat Langley, founding member of Marin’s organizing committee, said: “It’s in a great location. This site is within walking distance of an elementary school, high school, grocery store, job opportunities, playgrounds and public transportation.

The county lends the $6.5 million to Bridge Housing, but Thomas told supervisors there was no deadline for Bridge to replay the money.

“It’s called a residual revenue loan,” Thomas said.

She said this means Marin will be the last to be reimbursed once private investors receive their money and funds are set aside for ongoing maintenance.

“It will be over 10 years at this point,” Thomas said.

An unknown factor that could affect how quickly Marin is reimbursed is additional repairs to one or more of the buildings that Bridge only recently became aware of. Thomas did not provide any details on what the repairs entail or how much they may cost. Lyn Hikida, spokesperson for Bridge, wrote in an email: “It is premature to go into specifics.”

In its request for county funds, Bridge said it had already budgeted $3.6 million for repairs to balconies, elevators, water heaters, electrical panels, windows and the building envelope. .

Thomas said the Marin Community Foundation has also pledged to contribute at least $2.5 million to the Bridge project. Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters asked if the City of San Rafael provides funding, since the buildings are located in San Rafael. Thomas said no.

In an email, San Rafael Mayor Kate Colin said San Rafael accepts applications for funding from the city’s $1 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund at regular intervals.

“Through this Notice of Available Funding (NOFA) process, the city is providing an open, transparent, and competitive process for potential local affordable housing projects,” Colin wrote. “We expect another release of NOFA by January 2023.”

The mayor said that while the San Rafael City Council has prioritized the creation of new housing with its previous allocations, it “also supports the preservation of existing units.”

Responding to a question from Clayton Smith during a public comment, Thomas confirmed that the sale of the buildings to a non-profit organization providing housing for low-income residents will result in a loss of property taxes paid to the county and local schools.

Brad Wiblin, executive vice president of Bridge, told supervisors, “We would use these property tax savings to keep rents at the modest level they are at today.”

Thomas said state officials told the county that its allocation of millions of dollars to preserve 125 affordable housing units would not count towards fulfilling its state mandate to create 3,569 additional residences in unincorporated areas. in society over eight years, starting in 2023.

“Unfortunately the way the Department of Housing and Community Development has structured it, units cannot be occupied by low income tenants in order to take credit for a conversion from market rate to affordable” , said Thomas. “It seems to run counter to all of our displacement prevention goals.”

Regarding home purchases the county helps underwrite Bolinas, Thomas said the county’s past practice was to invest a maximum of $50,000 per unit in affordable housing projects. The county’s $800,000 allocation amounts to $200,000 per home. In its funding request, Habitat for Humanity projected a unit cost of approximately $705,000.

“The unit cost reflects the cost of development in the coastal area,” Thomas told supervisors. “There are additional regulatory hurdles as well as additional costs to do construction there.”

Thomas said Habitat for Humanity will hold the mortgages on the homes. When they are sold, the owners will keep a portion of the profits, but Habitat will ensure that they remain affordable for the next owner.