A new era for one Silvercrest

Freed from government regulations, the Santa Rosa facility finds ways to expand senior programming.

The last check is in the mail.

Later this month, the Santa Rosa Silvercrest senior living residence sends in its final mortgage payment to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), thereby ending its four-decade relationship with the government agency.

It’s a development with potentially wide-reaching ramifications.

“As we were thinking about the end of the HUD period, the corps, the division and the territorial headquarters analyzed the community to see what was the best use of the property,” said Susan Lawrence, executive director of Silvercrest Management.

Under the terms of the HUD contract, Silvercrest seniors were required to allocate just 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, with the agency subsidizing the remainder. On average, that meant seniors in Santa Rosa paid only $200 a month for a studio or one-bedroom unit.

Upon determining that Santa Rosa Silvercrest represents 16 percent of all affordable housing available to seniors in the city, the Army opted to essentially stay the course, continuing to operate the facility under much the same terms. As such, the Army’s board of directors has already signed a new, 20-year housing assistance contract with HUD on 144 of the facility’s 186 units. The remaining 42 units are slated to become market rate units open to any senior in the area, regardless of income.

Currently, the Army operates 34 Silvercrest residences throughout the Western Territory. The Santa Rosa facility is the first to phase out of the HUD program, but each of the territory’s remaining facilities will do so at some point between now and 2046.

With each phase out comes a range of new opportunities. With its mortgage paid off, the Santa Rosa Silvercrest is released from all HUD regulations governing administration of the facility, meaning at least $150,000 a year in revenue will be newly freed up. After lengthy discussions between corps, divisional and territorial leadership, together with advisory board members and Silvercrest administration, Western Territory headquarters decided to redirect $50,000 of these monies toward a yearly stipend for the Santa Rosa Corps. This stipend, designed to fund new senior programming, comes with a five-year commitment.

“This is an exciting new venture that will address the needs for additional services for the growing population of older adults in Santa Rosa,” said Elsa Cisar, divisional social services director for the Del Oro Division. “One of the major goals of the Santa Rosa Corps strategic plan specifically spoke to strengthening the relationship between the corps and Silvercrest.”  

To that end, plans are to develop a new senior center in the former Santa Rosa Corps building located next door, with programming open to all seniors in the community. A variety of initiatives for the new center are currently in the works, such as exercise and social activities, tax preparation, financial and estate planning services and legal aid.

Meanwhile, additional money is being set aside for renovations and other improvements to the Silvercrest facility itself, to the tune of nearly $4 million over the next 10 years.

“The important thing is we’ll be able to improve the property, maintain affordability and serve our seniors,” Lawrence said.

“It is exciting to see that The Salvation Army is accepting the challenge and seizing the opportunity to expand its ministry to older adults in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County,” Cisar said.  

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