A sweet thanks for Stanford’s $1M contribution to affordable housing

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How do you say thanks for a $1 million gift? With chocolate, of course.

Sister Christina Heltsley, executive director of the St. Francis Center in North Fair Oaks, presented a bar of chocolate with wrapping made to look like a $1 million bill to Stanford officials at the Redwood City council meeting on Monday.

The sweet gesture followed Stanford’s announcement last month of a $1 million contribution to the St. Francis Center to assist in the purchase of the 25-unit Benedicere Apartments at 780 Bradford St. in downtown Redwood City. The contribution allows existing tenants to remain in their homes at their existing, lower rental rates, and moves forward an eventual plan to convert the units into permanent affordable housing, according to Stanford.

“There actually is no way to say thank you for a $1 million gift,” said Heltsley, who added she decided on chocolate, something she loves. “We promise, the St. Francis Center makes a serious commitment to take that $1 million and make sure we use it well for the dignity, safety, the cleanliness and the homes of many families.”

The investment will “help low-income families for decades to come,” Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain said.

The contribution occurred amid the construction of the Redwood City campus set to be complete in 2019. The campus “is expected to provide more than $15 million in public benefits to Redwood City, including the enhancement of neighborhood streets in Friendly Acres, Redwood Village and North Fair Oaks, improved community sustainability, recreation and wellness, and contributions to the Redwood City Education Foundation,” according to the university.