North Park housing project for LGBT seniors moves toward final green light
By Margie Palmer
The San Diego Planning Commission has approved the development of an LGBT-affirmative senior housing complex in North Park.
A public hearing was held on Dec. 18, where commission members gave the plan a unanimous nod and are recommending the City Council grant final approval next month.
The 76-home senior apartment building is set to be located on the northwest corner of Texas Street and Howard Avenue and will sit adjacent to a 118-home multifamily building on the northeast corner.
The mixed-income development is the brainchild of nonprofit developers Community HousingWorks (CHW), which has partnered with the San Diego LGBT Community Center to help bring the project to fruition.
CHW said the senior apartments were designed as an affirming and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors. The Center said its staff will provide services welcoming to the entire senior community of residents.
Since its inception, the proposal has generated considerable neighborhood support and received official backing from the North Park Planning Committee (NPPC).
“Our committee overwhelmingly supported the proposed development,” said NPPC Chair Vicki Granowitz. “We like that it brings well-designed new housing options to our community, and also provides for seniors on limited incomes.”
The proposed design provides a large, open plaza at the northeast corner of Texas and Howard and significantly enhances the pedestrian experience along Texas Street. Building frontages on Howard Avenue and Arizona Street were designed to have a residential feel that complemented the existing residential uses on the opposite side of the street.
CHW officials stated that based on a previous study released by The Center, they identified that San Diego’s LGBT seniors were a particularly vulnerable demographic in need of affordable, welcoming living spaces.
The study also indicated that America’s LGBT seniors were far more likely than their non-LGBT counterparts to not have a family-based support network, especially since the vast majority of LGBT seniors are more likely to be single and not have children.
Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO of The Center, said they are very enthusiastic about the collaborative project.
“LGBT seniors have very few options for affirming and supportive housing — and for our low-income seniors, the situation is even more difficult,” Jacobs said. “This development provides a significant step in the direction of making sure LGBT seniors in San Diego can live with dignity. The fact that it’s a CHW development makes it even more exciting, as it gives us full confidence that it will be a safe, supportive, well-planned community that anyone would be proud to call home.”
The development uses an affordable housing density bonus to help make the affordable development feasible.
Under that program, 23 of the senior apartments will be restricted to very low income households earning 50 percent or less of the county’s median income.
CHW Vice President Dave Gatzke said the loss of redevelopment agency funding throughout California has made resources for affordable housing very limited.
“I’m thrilled that this mixed-income approach allows us to bring both high-quality market rate development to North Park and offset the gap in funding we have in building affordable housing,” he said.
CHW said their intent is to find additional funding sources and to break ground in 2016 with all 76 of the apartments to be affordable.
For more information about CHW, or to stay up to date on this project, visit chworks.org and find “north park chw” listed under real estate development and current projects.
—Margie Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of news publications for the past 10 years. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.