Seeking community input on design of community benefits
Building a new community in southeastern Solano can create a powerful economic engine that helps create economic opportunities for not just people who move to this community, but for all Solano County residents. For example, we believe that our project will create local jobs for residents of existing cities in Solano County, new clean power available to all of Solano County, and greatly increase tax revenues that help fund schools and social services for all of Solano County.
In addition, we are also thinking about additional community benefits, designed so that as the new community grows and prospers, we create programs that deliver additional opportunities for all residents of Solano County, such as down payment assistance programs, scholarships, and ongoing revenue streams to fund local non-profits.
We will announce more about our plans for this program when we announce the overall plans and ballot initiative in January 2024. To make sure those programs reflect input from all residents, we need your advice on what causes to prioritize in these community benefit programs.
To get the discussion started, we are listing below the ideas that we heard in a recent meeting of the Community Advisory Committee. In that meeting, we asked the committee members to tell us, and discuss with each other, what are the key things that we should use such funding for. Below are some of the ideas we heard most often.
Down payment assistance
“The creation of a down payment assistance program to help Solano County residents buy homes in this new community will go a long way toward helping families build long-term wealth through equity in their homes,” said Alix Pate, third generation resident of Fairfield and board member of the Solano Women’s Council of Realtors and Northern Solano Association of Realtors. “We can create a unique program, specific to Solano County residents, that can avoid some of the barriers that currently prevent working families from using existing down payment programs.”
Tara Beasley-Stansberry, Vallejo resident, small-business owner and member of the Vallejo City Council Planning Commission, said “Through a down payment assistance program, California Forever has the opportunity to help level the playing-field and create a community where the people who help build the community will be able to raise their families and live there.”
Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrera said, “I’ve seen firsthand throughout my career in law enforcement the value that early education and child care brings to communities – not only by ensuring parents are able to work knowing their children are taken care of, but also by helping keep children out of trouble and focused on what matters. Any new community in Solano County must understand this and I hope California Forever is able to help support strong child care options in the new community.”
Military and veterans
Retired Air Force CMSgt John Evalle said, “Several financial stressors for families nation-wide are affordable housing, availability of childcare, and military spouse employment. These are also three of the focus areas for military family quality of life along with quality education and healthcare. I look forward to seeing how California Forever will take this unique opportunity of being intentional to incorporate these community planning factors to help all the residents of Solano County as well as supporting the men and women assigned to Travis AFB.”
“There is an opportunity to create a dedicated funding stream to invest specifically in Solano County nonprofits,” said Chris Rico, CEO and President of the Solano County Economic Development Corporation. “This would help narrow the charitable giving gap that currently exists between our county and the surrounding region.”
“Nonprofits that serve those most in need in Solano County struggle because of the limited funding opportunities within our County. In a recent United Way study, Solano County receives less than 1% of philanthropic dollars in the Bay Area, yet in that same study, we had a high need score,” said Kim Castaneda, board member of the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Solano County Economic Development Corporation. “From programs that focus on workforce development to childcare programs that enable parents to go to work and more, we can work to create a brighter future for Solano County.”
Education and training
“It’s been clear for some time now that for our children to succeed in the modern economy, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics-based education is critical,” said Amy Fabi, a Vacaville resident who currently serves on the Solano County First 5 Children and Families Commission. “I hope that through this infusion of funding, Solano County’s children and future generations will reap the benefits of increased access to such education.”
“If we could create a scholarship program linking Solano County students to jobs in their hometowns after completion of their degree, be it from a trade-school, community college or even a four-year university, it would not only knock down financial barriers that prevent many from realizing their full potential, but also add to the jobs-housing balance we strive to achieve here,” said Steve Huddleston, former public affairs executive for a local health care system.
“We are interested in communities that are designed like the communities of older days, where many families and many generations lived together in the same community, sharing knowledge and resources, making meals together and helping provide child/elderly care for each other - creating a greater sense of community.” – Morne van Staden, owner of Journey Coffee
Finally, regardless of what are the causes that receive funding, we heard a consistent and broad consensus that any program should meet three key criteria:
Simple. We heard that too many existing downpayment assistance programs or grants require long applications and involve too much red tape that makes it impossible or difficult for people to get. Whatever the program is, we heard that it should be simple to apply for.
Balanced: We heard about the importance of balancing the recipients across all areas of Solano County, and touching every community in the county.
Transparent. We heard that however the money is allocated, there should be full transparency on who received any such grants or benefits, so that any member of the community knows how the funds are being used.
We want to hear from people from all walks of life in Solano County what we should prioritize in the proposal we bring to the voters. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you think, or come tell our team directly in our newly opened offices. The Vacaville office is at 965 Alamo Drive, the Vallejo office is at 537 Georgia St, and both are open 10am-6pm every day. The Fairfield and Rio Vista will be opened later this month.