A San Mateo County plan to improve habitability and safety in a 51-space mobile home park in North Fair Oaks is being billed as a win for affordable housing.
An inspection of the Redwood Trailer Village at 555 Baron Ave. — where about 200 people, half of them children, call home — revealed many of the aging units need to be replaced and are unsafe, according to county officials.
Amid a housing crisis, county officials from several departments, including the Department of Housing, want to prevent displacement of the low-income residents and maintain the site as affordable housing. And so for the past two years, county staff and officials developed a loan program to assist certain park residents with demolishing and replacing their units.
On Oct. 23, the County’s Board of Supervisors approved allocating $6.5 million toward the program to replace the units deemed “extremely unsafe, overcrowded, and dilapidated.” About 45 loans with a fixed interest rate of one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) for a term of up to 30 years are expected to be issued by the County. The generous loans will allow borrowers to pay them off early without penalty.
The program is an attempt to “improve habitability, maintain affordability and prevent displacement,” said Kenneth Cole, director of the San Mateo County Department of Housing.
Nearly 70-percent of the $6.5 million will be used for loans and thus repaid to the county. A portion of the remaining 30-percent of the 6.5 million will be spent to relocate residents during construction. County officials aim to do much of the work in phases, and ideally mostly during the summer so as not to disturb the school year for children living at Redwood Trailer Village.
Borrowers will be required to live in the unit full-time, with subleasing prohibited. If they wanted to sell their unit, they would need county approval and to pay off their loan in full.