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Affordable Housing Development in Santa Clara Offers Dignity and Security for Seniors

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – The experience of homelessness is traumatic for everyone who goes through it, but it can be particularly difficult for older adults.

The stress of being homeless can severely affect the mental and physical health of people who are 50 and above. Health conditions worsen more rapidly, for instance, among unhoused seniors than they do among their peers in the general population.

A woman and her dog sit in an apartment.
Angela Montoya sits in her home at Kifer Senior Apartments in Santa Clara.

In Santa Clara County, homelessness among seniors is on the rise, with more than half of households who are enrolled in permanent supportive housing programs being 55 years of age or older. To address this demographic shift, the County of Santa Clara has joined forces with an array of public and private partners to improve access to affordable housing for older adults. 

On Wednesday, May 8, the County celebrated an important milestone in this campaign with the grand opening of Kifer Senior Apartments, an affordable housing complex for seniors in the city of Santa Clara. 

The $57 million development features 80 units, consisting of 79 affordable senior housing units and one manager’s unit. More than half the apartments are set aside for unhoused seniors, and eight units are reserved for senior veterans who are experiencing homelessness.

The County provided $14 million in funding to the project, with $7.4 million coming from the $950 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, approved by county voters in 2016. The remaining $6.6 million came from No Place Like Home, a state program to build permanent supportive housing for people who need mental health services or who are experiencing homelessness.

“Living on the streets takes a toll on your body,” said Consuelo Hernández, director of the County Office of Supportive Housing, which works to increase the supply of affordable housing in Santa Clara County and connects residents with supportive housing services. “When we are able to give people the dignity of housing, and no longer having to deal with the cold and the heat and the trauma of living on the streets, then we as a community have succeeded.”

The project was built by Abode Housing Development, the supportive housing development arm of Abode, the Bay Area’s largest provider of housing and services to people experiencing homelessness.

A crowd gathers for a photo outside an apartment building.
A crowd gathers for a grand-opening photo in front of Kifer Senior Apartments.

The six-story building, located at 3333 Kifer Road, includes 30 studios, 45 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units. The development features a rooftop terrace and bike storage as well as community and conference rooms. The sustainably built project is GreenPoint Rated Gold, with van-accessible electric-vehicle charging stations, and is applying for a state incentive program to install solar panels.

Angela Montoya and Matrese Carlock are among the first residents of Kifer Senior Apartments. Montoya, 61, wound up homeless after getting out of an abusive relationship. She was able to turn her life around with the help of a community resource officer with the Mountain View Police Department.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,” said Montoya, sharing a quotation from a book of aphorisms. “But anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Carlock, 57, was laid off from her job in 2017 and eventually lost her apartment. She spent much of the next seven years living in her car. Last month she moved into her new studio apartment at Kifer.

“It’s amazing. It’s a beautiful place,” Carlock said of her new home. “I’m blessed that I have a place I can afford.” 

The Board of Supervisors has now allocated nearly $700 million in Measure A funding toward 56 developments that will create a total of 5,217 new housing units and 689 renovated apartments. So far, 23 projects have been completed, with 1,752 new units and 618 rehabilitated units in operation.

For more information on the affordable housing bond, visit the County’s Measure A webpage