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By the late 1970s it had become apparent that there was a shortage of affordable housing for seniors in the Ross Valley. Representatives of the First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo, St. John’s Episcopal, St. Anselm Catholic Church, both in Ross, and the Ross Valley Rotary formed the Ross Valley Ecumenical Housing Association (RVEHA) to address the problem.
A shared, or communal, living arrangement was envisioned. RVEHA then searched for a home that could be converted into a residential living facility for 7 or so single seniors. We have grown to 21 residents. (We are not a care facility.) Tam One was founded on Tamalpais Avenue and purchased in mid 1970s and renovated by donations solicited from the churches and wider community.
Now familiarly called Tam House, the model evolved into what we see today. Single seniors share a home. Each has a private bedroom and private or shared bath. Certain amenities are provided including a fresh dinner cooked at Tam House by the Tam House chef five days a week, basic breakfast supplies, utilities, cable, laundry and communal gardens. We provide this for approximately $1,000 to $1,100 a month, including food.
With group effort and the assistance of several “angels” Tam Two was built in 2008. Both Tam Houses share the benefits of an excellent location for seniors, with easy access to the public library, shopping, groceries and transit. We are now home for 21 seniors and we provide one of the only options for some seniors surviving on their social security check.
The Tam House model appears to be a unique one in the United States. Integrated comfortably into our larger community, we are good neighbors. We feel that Tam House is not just good for our seniors, we are also good for the Ross Valley. Based on the premise of keeping our seniors with fixed low incomes in our community and in small-scale living situations, we also attempt to be self-sufficient. We can strive for that because of the generosity of many that enabled us to own our Tam Houses outright.
However, we are not entirely self-sufficient. Our operating costs run approximately $50,000 short each year and we also have the responsibility of keeping a substantial reserve account in case of large scale repairs and maintenance needs. So, like all non-profits we need to raise additional funds. To fill the gap, we rely on our donors and small grants. We ask that you consider making a donation to Tam House and to keeping Seniors in the Ross Valley.
The housing situation has gotten worse in the last 40 years. We see a need for more Tam Houses in many places. It is a goal of the RVEHA Board to share our model with those interested in creating more homes like ours. If you’d like a tour of Tam House, or to discuss how we operate we are happy to do so. Please contact our manager to make an appointment. By adding to our success at Tam House we can provide an economical and environmentally sound solution to the housing crisis. Innovative housing solutions make sense, as does communal living, especially for a population that benefits from companionship and a sense of community.
Your Tax-Deductible Donation may be sent to:
RVEHA (Tam House)
San Anselmo, CA 94979
Should you wish to make a brokerage contribution please call the office. 415-457-5633
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