By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer
West Covina, Calif.–Work has gotten underway on West Covina Senior Villas II, an affordable senior housing project approximately 20 miles east of Los Angeles, in West Covina. The apartment community will ultimately yield 65 new residences to complement the 85 at the six-year-old West Covina Senior Villas I across the street.
“There is demand in all communities for affordable senior housing, especially in California where rent prices have gone up,” Christopher Chung, director of the West Covina Community Development Commission, tells MHN. “It’s difficult for seniors living on a fixed income or Social Security to afford $1,000 a month for rent.” West Covina Senior Villas II will be restricted to the elderly in the low- and very low-income brackets.
West Covina Senior Villas II L.P. is the developer behind the $7.7 million endeavor. The architectural firm of Berman & Brent conceived the design for the three-story structure, and American General Corp. is overseeing building activity as the general contractor. Before this team came onboard, the one-acre parcel at 1838 E. Workman Ave. had been destined to become the home of a 24-unit condominium complex under the direction of JV Homes. However, like so many other developers with condominium plans at the onset of the housing implosion, JV Homes was forced to halt construction of the project. The company later sold the site to the West Covina Senior Villas II developer for $3.5 million.
West Covina Senior Villas II marks yet one more step in the city’s long-held quest to supply ample quality affordable housing accommodations for its low-income residents. West Covina CDC has played a large role in the pursuit, having assisted 3,000 affordable housing units—including 770 apartments for seniors–over the last four decades. The organization provided West Covina Senior Villas II L. P. with an $8.6 million loan from its Housing Set-Aside reserve fund.
However, across the country, the funds that city agencies and local housing organizations can contribute are never sufficient to fill the gap in the affordable housing market, senior or otherwise. “There is not enough affordable housing to support the demand, but it’s not that cities don’t want to do it, they can’t afford to do it,” Chung says. “In order to make affordable senior housing work, we need more financial assistance to write down the cost of rent,” Chung says. “A lot of cities just don’t have the funds to do it.” West Covina CDC anticipates expending an estimated total of $24 million on low- to moderate-income housing projects over the course of the organization’s 2010-2014 implementation plan period.