The Tubbs Fire in October 2017 destroyed more than 5,000 homes in Sonoma County, California, and was a harbinger of more destruction to come. This devastating loss added to the already critical shortage of affordable housing in the county.

It was recognized early on that much of the needed replacement housing should be concentrated in urban centers, particularly Santa Rosa, the largest city in Sonoma County. The importance of building in the urban core is centered on the need for mass transit, green development and wildfire resistant homes.

Enterprise quickly participated in a number of meetings with financial institutions, community organizations and nonprofit housing developers to start the long-term recovery process. Out of that process came the idea for a new and uniquely structured organization called the Renewal Enterprise District, or the RED. Enterprise has worked closely with the RED in designing its structure and programs.

The RED is set up as a joint-powers authority (JPA) which is an organization created by the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. In the future, it is expected that all local governments in Sonoma County will be members.

The purpose of the RED is to create a trusted, replicable and enduring model of housing and community development to meet the changing needs of the 21stcentury by:

  • Taking a regional approach to housing planning and production
  • Pooling and leveraging financing tools and funding sources
  • Sharing the risks and benefits of development in new ways
  • Streamlining environmental review of housing near jobs and transit
  • Putting equity, affordability, and climate resiliency in the center of our housing and economic development

The RED will create a number of opportunities for funding for projects. For affordable developers, there will be a subordinate loan program that is able to fill gaps in a project’s stack at all phases of the development process. For middle income and market-rate developers, the RED will provide construction financing that is subordinate to a conventional construction loan, representing approximately 10 percent of a project’s total cost.

Enterprise’s work with the RED aligns with the Democratizing Resilience and Disaster Recovery (DRDR) initiative, working to change our disaster preparedness and recovery that currently hurts low-income and communities of color worst and provides the least amount of recovery.

To learn more about the Renewal Enterprise District, contact Michelle Whitman, executive director, RED, or at 707.543.3087.