San Pablo Helms Community Center (2012), San Pablo, CA

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COMMUNITY IMPACT

The San Pablo Helms Community Center is located on the campus of the Walter T. Helms Middle School in San Pablo, California. Prior to project development in 2012, the city had one of the lowest per capita ratios of recreational space to population in the state. Further, it is a highly distressed low-income community with a Median Income of 59.1 percent. The population of San Pablo is approximately 31,000 people, with more than 8,000 living within a half-mile radius of the Center. The development of the San Pablo Helms Community Center faced a critical $1.8 million financing gap created by the loss of the Redevelopment Agency funding mechanism in California. New Markets Community Capital (NMCC) filled this funding gap through a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investment. NMCC and its parent, TELACU, became aware of the project through their extensive network of contacts in economic and community development throughout California. NMCC then partnered with the City of San Pablo and Chase Bank, as the NMTC Investor, to structure ‘Construction to Permanent’ financing, which included $9.4 Million of NMTC allocation and QLICI’s totaling $9.306 million. Project development would have been stalled indefinitely, absent the gap equity funding provided by NMCC through the NMTC Program. The Helms Community Center opened in 2013 and now serves the public through a highly flexible and functional new 10,500 sq. ft. building. The facility features a large multi-purpose space with Wi-Fi and a kitchen for catering or cooking classes, two smaller meeting/class rooms, a teen lounge with a music recording room, a computer room with 20 computers, and a fitness room. An outdoor space provides a playground, edible garden and youth multi-use plaza. There is also a surface parking lot and restrooms accessible from the adjacent track and sports fields. The Center now actively promotes healthier lifestyles in the community, regularly receiving 6,000 to 8,000 visits per month and providing vital community recreation facilities and programming in the City of San Pablo for residents of all ages with particular focus on youth. In 2015 the Center served 66,663 members of the community in its facility, almost 17,000 more members then originally estimated. In a low-income community with an unemployment at 2.22 times the national average, the creation of 74 jobs was also a welcomed additional benefit.

Voices from the Community

The NMTC allows us to provide capital to projects that meet a critical need, be it jobs, health services, transitional housing, youth programs, community goods, et al, in a low-income community and that without the NMTC would not move forward. The projects also serve as a catalyst for further investment in low-income communities which serve to build the assets, both human and physical, of the community.

Jose Villalobos, Senior Vice President, TELACU, Los Angeles, CA

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