First Community Housing (FCH) is an award-winning, nonprofit, Public Benefit Housing Development Corporation, located in San Jose, California. Since 1986, FCH has created housing for more than 3,200 low-income residents in over 1,380 units in 19 affordable rental housing developments throughout the San Francisco Bay region. The low-income populations served include families, senior citizens, formerly homeless, and special needs populations including chronically ill and developmentally disabled adults.
The mission of FCH is to provide quality and healthy environments for its residents. Dedication to this mission is apparent throughout the design, construction, leasing, and long term maintenance. Over the last few decades, FCH has been developing a baseline approach for building healthier, more sustainable buildings. An important component of the approach is a long standing product list that guides specification for each project. This facilitates the procurement process, while reducing the cost of research and the risk of testing new materials. FCH also continues to learn from their design successes or challenges through long-term active post occupancy work. Their in-house management leaders, namely the Sustainable Facilities Manager and the Sustainable Site Manager, train the building managers to incorporate healthier products in their practice. They also offer workshops with residents on how to use affordable and healthier products in their households. This ongoing relationship enables a feedback loop to learn what materials or spaces are working better than others, and informs future projects.
FCH demonstrates their commitment to bettering lives through integrating their housing with services. Their vision that “housing is healthcare” extends to materials selection, ensuring access to healthy living options, as well as healthier living environments. All of these factors have led to positive effects for their residents.