News

Under a new name, Palo Alto Housing looks beyond its hometown

Developer rebrands itself as Alta Housing

The Oak Court Apartments in Palo Alto is one of Palo Alto Housing's developments on the Peninsula. Weekly file photo by Veronica Weber.

Palo Alto Housing, a nonprofit developer that has been building affordable housing for 50 years, has changed its name to Alta Housing, a move that signals the expansion of its ambitions beyond the confines of its hometown.

The nonprofit, which has also been known as the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, will remain headquartered in Palo Alto, a city that has struggled over the past decade to build affordable housing and that is now in the midst of implementing a Housing Work Plan with incentives for residential construction. The only significant affordable-housing project in the city's pipeline is Wilton Court, a 59-unit complex for low-income residents and adults with disabilities that is being developed by Palo Alto Housing at 3805 El Camino Real.

Since its birth in 1970, the nonprofit has focused its development efforts in Palo Alto, which is home to 23 of its 24 existing residential complexes (the only exception is its most recent development, Eagle Park, a 67-unit project in Mountain View). Its first residential community, the 60-unit Colorado Park Apartments, was completed in 1971. Today, its properties house more than 2,000 residents and its local properties range in size from the four-unit Emerson House to the 68-unit Webster Wood Apartments. The nonprofit also administers the city's below-market-rate program.

Not all of its local efforts had borne fruit. In 2013, the nonprofit found itself at the center of a heated citywide debate when residents challenged the City Council's approval of a housing development in the Barron Park neighborhood, which included 60 units for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes. The referendum passed, killing the project, and the land on Maybell Avenue is now being redeveloped for 16 single-family homes.

Since the 2013 referendum, the nonprofit began to look for new opportunities beyond the borders of Palo Alto, where affordable housing had screeched to a halt.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

The Wilton Court project, which the council approved last year, is the first major below-market-rate project to get the green light since the referendum.

Alta is also moving ahead with a 67-unit development at 2821 El Camino Real in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood in San Mateo County that is slated to be completed in October. The project, which includes units for low-income families and veterans, will be its first project outside Santa Clara County.

Randy Tsuda, CEO of Alto Housing, said the nonprofit changed its name to reflect its work outside Palo Alto. Photo courtesy Palo Alto Housing.

Randy Tsuda, president and CEO of Alta Housing, said the nonprofit is also preparing to break ground next month on its second Mountain View project, a 71-unit development at 950 W. El Camino Real.

Later this year, it is scheduled to break ground on Wilton Court, Tsuda said. The nonprofit is now in the process of selecting a general contractor for the project.

Tsuda told this news organization that the nonprofit considered more than 100 names before selecting Alta Housing. The name, which means "high" in Spanish, has an aspirational tone and reflects the nonprofit's "uplifting work" to support residents, he said. It also reflects its broader geographical reach, he said.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

"We are now working in Mountain View and in San Mateo County, in addition to Palo Alto," Tsuda said. "We wanted to adopt a name that reflects the larger geography in which we're working."

The nonprofit was planning to announce its new name at a 50th anniversary celebration, which was set to take place at the Mitchell Park Community Center. The event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the county's shelter-in-place order in response to the virus.

Sandy Sloan, board chair at Alta Housing, said in a statement the organization's new name is also a nod to the historic name of "Alta California," meaning "Upper California." She called the organization will "continue to deliver on Palo Alto Housing's mission to provide our community residents with opportunities for growth and advancement through quality affordable housing."

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Under a new name, Palo Alto Housing looks beyond its hometown

Developer rebrands itself as Alta Housing

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, May 21, 2020, 1:05 pm
Updated: Tue, May 26, 2020, 8:34 am

Palo Alto Housing, a nonprofit developer that has been building affordable housing for 50 years, has changed its name to Alta Housing, a move that signals the expansion of its ambitions beyond the confines of its hometown.

The nonprofit, which has also been known as the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, will remain headquartered in Palo Alto, a city that has struggled over the past decade to build affordable housing and that is now in the midst of implementing a Housing Work Plan with incentives for residential construction. The only significant affordable-housing project in the city's pipeline is Wilton Court, a 59-unit complex for low-income residents and adults with disabilities that is being developed by Palo Alto Housing at 3805 El Camino Real.

Since its birth in 1970, the nonprofit has focused its development efforts in Palo Alto, which is home to 23 of its 24 existing residential complexes (the only exception is its most recent development, Eagle Park, a 67-unit project in Mountain View). Its first residential community, the 60-unit Colorado Park Apartments, was completed in 1971. Today, its properties house more than 2,000 residents and its local properties range in size from the four-unit Emerson House to the 68-unit Webster Wood Apartments. The nonprofit also administers the city's below-market-rate program.

Not all of its local efforts had borne fruit. In 2013, the nonprofit found itself at the center of a heated citywide debate when residents challenged the City Council's approval of a housing development in the Barron Park neighborhood, which included 60 units for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes. The referendum passed, killing the project, and the land on Maybell Avenue is now being redeveloped for 16 single-family homes.

Since the 2013 referendum, the nonprofit began to look for new opportunities beyond the borders of Palo Alto, where affordable housing had screeched to a halt.

The Wilton Court project, which the council approved last year, is the first major below-market-rate project to get the green light since the referendum.

Alta is also moving ahead with a 67-unit development at 2821 El Camino Real in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood in San Mateo County that is slated to be completed in October. The project, which includes units for low-income families and veterans, will be its first project outside Santa Clara County.

Randy Tsuda, president and CEO of Alta Housing, said the nonprofit is also preparing to break ground next month on its second Mountain View project, a 71-unit development at 950 W. El Camino Real.

Later this year, it is scheduled to break ground on Wilton Court, Tsuda said. The nonprofit is now in the process of selecting a general contractor for the project.

Tsuda told this news organization that the nonprofit considered more than 100 names before selecting Alta Housing. The name, which means "high" in Spanish, has an aspirational tone and reflects the nonprofit's "uplifting work" to support residents, he said. It also reflects its broader geographical reach, he said.

"We are now working in Mountain View and in San Mateo County, in addition to Palo Alto," Tsuda said. "We wanted to adopt a name that reflects the larger geography in which we're working."

The nonprofit was planning to announce its new name at a 50th anniversary celebration, which was set to take place at the Mitchell Park Community Center. The event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the county's shelter-in-place order in response to the virus.

Sandy Sloan, board chair at Alta Housing, said in a statement the organization's new name is also a nod to the historic name of "Alta California," meaning "Upper California." She called the organization will "continue to deliver on Palo Alto Housing's mission to provide our community residents with opportunities for growth and advancement through quality affordable housing."

Comments

ASR
College Terrace
on May 21, 2020 at 3:34 pm
ASR , College Terrace
on May 21, 2020 at 3:34 pm
3 people like this


A great achievement.


MidtownMom
Midtown
on May 21, 2020 at 4:26 pm
MidtownMom, Midtown
on May 21, 2020 at 4:26 pm
8 people like this

More of this and less of other builders who are allowed to opt out of reserving BMR units in their new projects by paying a nominal fee. I’ve been on the BMR waiting list for 7 years and counting with 200 people still in front of me


Sally
Downtown North
on May 21, 2020 at 9:44 pm
Sally, Downtown North
on May 21, 2020 at 9:44 pm
12 people like this

Woo hoo! Some non-profit changed its name,...

[This coming comment below has nothing to do with this organization, so I am neither trying to implicitly criticize them.] Weekly, I have a suggestion. Whenever you have a story about a non-profit, link to its recently public financial disclosures (or, better, summarize them). The proof is in the pudding!


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on May 22, 2020 at 9:25 am
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on May 22, 2020 at 9:25 am
6 people like this

I think we'd get a lot better city and a lot more appropriate development if we only worked with and supported non-profit developers.


NeilsonBuchanan
Downtown North
on May 22, 2020 at 10:26 am
NeilsonBuchanan, Downtown North
on May 22, 2020 at 10:26 am
2 people like this

Thanks for the update. I give this organization a solid A+ based on their track record, ethics and transparency. Their non-profit status makes them extra special.


Downtown Parent
Professorville
on May 22, 2020 at 11:53 am
Downtown Parent, Professorville
on May 22, 2020 at 11:53 am
15 people like this

I want to second Sally. Please post the salaries of the Palo Alto Housing leadership. There is another article in this Weekly issue, which indicates that PAH received almost 1 million in COVID-19 funding, and none of it will be spent on rent assistance during this crisis. It will cover some potential (!) losses - WOW, this really shows how they care about their tenants.


Diana Galbraith
Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Diana Galbraith, Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Like this comment

What is the website for Alta? The original Palo Alto Housing website is no longer available.


YIMBY
Palo Verde
on May 23, 2020 at 8:48 pm
YIMBY, Palo Verde
on May 23, 2020 at 8:48 pm
Like this comment

The website is: Web Link


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2020 at 10:40 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2020 at 10:40 pm
Like this comment

Posted by Downtown Parent, a resident of Professorville
on May 22, 2020 at 11:53 am

>> I want to second Sally. Please post the salaries of the Palo Alto Housing leadership. There is another article in this Weekly issue,

Do you have a pointer to that article?


Online Follower
another community
on May 26, 2020 at 10:27 am
Online Follower, another community
on May 26, 2020 at 10:27 am
Like this comment

Great. Maybe now they will finally update the link on the new Alta website to previous sales of BMR units in Palo Alto, unless of course there have been no sales since 11/18.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Not sure?