Transformation coming to Salinas' Chinatown

Oct 10, 2017

A transformation is coming to Salinas’ Chinatown. A new affordable housing development will soon break ground. 

Tents line the sidewalks of Soledad Street in Salinas’ Chinatown. This homeless encampment is close to services like Dorothy’s Place for meals, or the Chinatown Health Services Center that offers bathrooms and hot showers. But this street is also rife with drugs, prostitution and trash.

Talk of revitalizing Chinatown dates back decades to when Salinas’ Mayor Joe Gunter was still a cop.

“It seems like it's been forever, but now that it's here, it’s like wow. The success of this for the community, for this homeless folk, can’t wait for it to happen,” says Gunter.

The City is giving property it owns on the street to MidPen Housing. The non-profit builds affordable and supportive housing. Of the 90 units to be built in the new Soledad street complex, 40 will be for high need people like the homeless.

“People need to be housed before they can stabilize other parts of their life. So in the past it had been, ‘well, get off of drugs, get a job and then you can get housed.’ But that has evolved over the past decade to prioritize housing,” said Betsy Wilson, MidPen’s Director of Housing Development.

The high need residents will also receive support services from MidPen Resident Services.

"Our goal is housing retention, and allowing them to live independently," says Wilson.

The project, called 21 Soledad Street, will also have retail space on the ground level. In September, MidPen received nearly $32-million in federal and state tax credits. That’s the final piece of funding needed for this project.

Construction begins in March of next year. 21 Soledad Street is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2019.