New Affordable Seniors Housing in San Diego Will Be LGBT Friendly

Community HousingWorks is planning Arizona Street Development, a proposed 76-home seniors apartment building and a 118-home multifamily building in San Diego’s North Park district.

San Diego—Community HousingWorks is planning Arizona Street Development, a proposed 76-home seniors apartment building and a 118-home multifamily building in San Diego’s North Park district.

CHW is partnering with the San Diego LGBT Community Center in an effort to design the seniors apartments as an affirming and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors.

“The need is monumental. The San Diego region struggles to provide housing to meet its job growth and demand, and low-income renters are hurt the most,” Dave Gatzke, CHW’s vice president, tells MHN. “The North Park neighborhood is an increasingly desirable place to live and rents are increasing as a result. Many seniors on fixed incomes are facing steep rent increases and [are] not seeing any increases in their fixed incomes.”

The development would be located on the northwest corner of Texas Street and Howard Avenue and the proposal is generating significant support from North Park residents and the official North Park Planning Committee.

“The site is a great infill location and allows us to transform a former parking lot into a beautiful residence for 76 senior households,” Gatzke says. “A recently opened rapid bus line stops half a block from the property and provides access to Downtown San Diego and San Diego State University. Seniors can continue to live a very active lifestyle with easy access to shopping, amenities and services.”

The property will feature a computer lab, both indoor and outdoor multi-purpose gathering areas, a common demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and event catering, private meeting rooms and other amenities to facilitate social interactions and educational opportunities. Additionally, the San Diego LGBT Center will offer on-site programs and services open to all residents.

According to Gatzke, North Park and Hillcrest, the neighborhood immediately to the west, have always been dynamic areas with independent retail, good dining and nightlife and other great urban resources. They have also been the heart of the LGBT community.

While the senior apartments will be open to all who meet the age and income requirements, the LGBT-affirming community is specifically meant to address a 2011 community-needs assessment led by The Center that found LGBT-seniors’ highest concerns included fears of increasing social isolation, lack of access to culturally competent health and social services, financial concerns and lack of access to safe, affordable and affirming housing options.

“Developing the site for a market-rate building and a separate affordable senior building presented logistical challenges, especially after the elimination of California’s redevelopment agencies,” Gatzke says. “The effort was worth it, though, because we were able to respond to the community’s call to provide new high-quality housing to meet ever increasing demand as a new generation discovered the great elements North Park had to offer while simultaneously addressing the needs of existing residents.”

The City of San Diego Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing to review the development on Thursday, Dec. 18, and will make a recommendation to the City Council for its approval in January. Once the Council approves the proposed development, CHW can seek an allocation of low income housing tax credits, which will be instrumental to finance the development of all 76 seniors apartments as affordable.