Senior Housing: Senior housing deal eyed

by Joe Nelso for the Sun

SAN BERNARDINO – The city is pushing to acquire an apartment complex in a blighted area, relocate its tenants and convert it into a state-of-the-art affordable-housing complex for senior citizens.

The City Council on Monday will vote on a recommendation to have the city Economic Development Agency partner with Los Angeles-based Meta Housing Corp. to acquire the Sunset Cove Apartments, at the end of a cul-de-sac at 839 Lugo Ave., near Ninth Street and Sierra Way.

It is part of a bigger effort to revitalize the centrally located neighborhood that has fallen victim to blight and increasing crime over the years.

The refurbished complex will help the city meet its demand for more affordable senior housing. A study conducted by the city in 2008 revealed that the city was 1,000 units below what is needed for an aging population.

“I believe this is the first step in the right direction, and we’re very excited,” said Councilwoman Virginia Marquez, who recently co-hosted a town hall meeting at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church to discuss the acquisition with residents living near the complex and other community stakeholders. Tenants from Sunset Cove, however, were not in attendance at the meeting. They were not informed of the meeting, Marquez said.

That’s because nothing can be done in any official manner with the existing tenants until property ownership has switched hands, said Carey Jenkins, the city’s director of housing and community development.

“It’s not legal for the owner to start that process until they actually own the property,” Jenkins said.

The city began negotiating with Meta Housing earlier this year on acquiring the property and embarking on the $18.5 million project. The Economic Development Agency’s agreed-upon subsidy for the project is $6.5 million.

Once the property is in the hands of the city and Meta Housing, a relocation consultant will interview all tenants of Sunset Cove, assessing their needs on an individual basis. The consultant will assist the tenants with finding new housing and will provide 42 months’ worth of relocation cash benefits, made payable to either the tenants or their new landlords, Jenkins said.

The amount of cash benefits each tenant receives will be based on a sliding scale, Jenkins said.

The refurbished 119-unit senior complex will feature a new clubhouse, upgraded swimming pool, elevators, new walkways, enhanced lighting and security, a new perimeter wall and new landscaping, Jenkins said.

Some residents have complained about the view of the neighboring Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, and a new wall can help minimize those impacts, officials said.

Officials with Meta Housing, which specializes in the development of affordable-housing projects, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Seniors will have to meet certain eligibility criteria based on age and income to secure a unit at the complex. Preference will be given to existing senior citizen tenants at Sunset Cove who may desire to live at the new complex once it’s completed, Marquez said.

The San Bernardino City Council meets at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers, 300 N. D St.


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