Affordable Housing Project Reduces Neighborhood Crime

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorRialto, Calif.–National Community Renaissance  (National CORE), a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based nonprofit developer of affordable housing, has revitalized the former Willows-Winchester neighborhood with a newly refurbished 152-unit affordable housing project. National CORE partnered with the city of Rialto to complete the $37 million rehabilitation.Since National CORE took over the development in 2005, the overall crime rate has decreased 68 percent, according to the developer. “Before, when you walked on the site, you could tell it was controlled by criminals, says Gloria Chavez, a spokesperson for National CORE. “Today, it is a family place where you can raise children and know they can grow up in a healthy neighborhood.”The renamed Citrus Grove of Rialto is in its final stages and is expected to be complete by this summer. Rents range from $351 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit to $864 for a three-bedroom, two-bath unit. Rents are based on the tenant’s income, though the average gross annual income for a family of four cannot exceed $29,600.Each unit will include new appliances, roofing, carpets, windows, doors, bathroom fixtures, plumbing, electrical systems, drywall, exterior stucco and landscaping.  Amenities include a gated entrance, centralized laundry, tot-lot and a 6,300 sq. ft. community/learning center, which will be the leasing center, as well as the site of a day care facility, Head Start programs, after-school programs, tutoring and 12 computer stations.The development is currently 33 percent occupied.Because the rehabilitation took place in phases, tenants already living in the development were temporarily relocated to a section of the project. The first phase, completed in November 2007, comprised 44 units reserved for these tenants. Phase two, containing 48 units, will be completed by the end of this month, and the final phase, which will include 60 units and the community center, will be finished by June.Prior to National CORE’s takeover, the neighborhood consisted of 40 four-plexes of deteriorating condominiums. Most of the units, however, had become rentals with individual absentee landlords. The city is in the process of acquiring the remaining nine four-plexes, which will also be rehabilitated and funded by the Senate and the StateFunding for the project was provided through tax-exempt bonds, tax credits, HCD Multi-Family Housing Program funds, San Bernardino Country HOME funds and other public sources.