Berrellesa Palms is home to 48 frail, low-income seniors in Northern California.

The residents are living with chronic diseases that have resulted in both long-term medical needs and financial effects that have left them at risk of homelessness.

Built in the city of Martinez in Contra Costa County, Berrellesa Palms focuses on the intersection of senior housing and the health-care needs of people with serious health concerns, according to nonprofit developer Resources for Community Development (RCD).

“The accessible features and on-site services at Berrellesa make it a model for how very-low income frail seniors can keep their independence in an affordable, healthy, and beautiful home,” says Dan Sawislak, RCD executive director.

Through the California Assisted Living Waiver Program, the development will soon take part in a pilot program that will provide 24-hour nursing services to help residents manage their health-care needs and reduce more costly health services by allowing residents to age in place.

The building was designed with a wide range of features for its elderly residents, including fully accessible common areas, scooter storage, roll-in showers, and doors that open with the push of a button.

The development is deeply affordable to residents because all of the one-bedroom apartments operate under the project-based Sec. 8 program, which means they pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent. Three units are set aside for individuals who qualify under the federal Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program.

A services manager with a specialty in geriatric care is available to work with the residents.

Early on, the project attracted small but vocal opposition, including a lawsuit to prevent the development from moving forward. RCD persevered through the adversity to build a community asset.

The new, $22.7 million development is playing a big role in improving the city’s downtown neighborhood. RCD repurposed a site that had dilapidated buildings and was used for light industrial storage and transformed it into Berrellesa Palms. The building’s design captures the style of the many nearby historic homes.

Key financing for Berrellesa Palms includes 4% low-income housing tax credits, which generated about $8.4 million in equity from Union Bank. 

Project Details

Developer: Resources for Community Development
Architect: KTGY Group
Major Funders: Union Bank; Bank of the West; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; California Debt Limit Allocation Committee; California Department of Housing and Community Development; Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development; Contra Costa County Housing Authority; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; Wells Fargo; Corporation for Supportive Housing; Center for Creative Land Recycling