Affordable Across America: West Coast

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7 min read

50 Projects for 50 Years 

PROJECT: Star Apartments | Los Angeles, CA
Opened in 2013
DEVELOPER: Skid Row Housing Trust; Los Angeles, CA
FAVORITE OF: Kaitlyn Snyder, Policy Director, National Housing & Rehabilitation Association
DESCRIPTION: Star Apartments is a model experiment in Housing First, where the homeless are given permanent shelter as a path to restore other aspects of their lives. It was built in Skid Row, the most notorious U.S. neighborhood for homelessness. Built for $21 million, this project received Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity from Bank of America and the National Equity Fund. At opening, 100 homeless individuals were slated to use the facility. The rooftop parking lot was renovated into an outdoor recreation area. The property includes an elevator, fitness area and conference room, and received a LEED certification.

Star Apartments integrates the Housing First model with onsite clinical services in the heart of downtown Los Angeles to provide wrap-around services for people experiencing homelessness. The visually striking building used prefabricated modules on an existing podium to meet a limited budget and tight schedule while still meeting LEED Platinum standards.”  —KAITLYN SNYDER

PROJECT: SF-RAD | San Francisco, CA
Phase I closed November 2015, Phase II November 2016
DEVELOPER: Bank of America Community Development Banking
FAVORITE OF: Maria Barry, Community Development Banking National Executive, Bank of America
DESCRIPTION: San Francisco’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (SF-RAD) consists of 29 projects at 30 properties and totals 3,482 units and 10,000 tenants. The projects are in neighborhoods throughout the city, including Chinatown, Tenderloin, the Mission, Bernal Heights, SOMA, North Beach, Duboce Triangle and the Richmond District. The city of San Francisco sold 75 percent of the San Francisco Housing Authority portfolio to experienced affordable developers and utilized the new Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program and Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to finance the rehabilitation of the properties. No existing tenants were displaced, affordability was maintained and services added, including wellness services for residents suffering PTSD.

Other development partners included: Chinatown Related California, TNDC, Community Housing Partnership, BRIDGE Housing, Mercy Housing California and John Stewart Co.

SF-RAD was unique in its scope and impact. Bank of America provided a competitive, creative solution to rehabilitate more than 2,900 affordable housing units for SF-RAD. Our team provided an innovative financing package, which included a combination of short- and long-term debt, tax credit equity and financing specifically for supportive services for tenants as part of our continued commitment to help create safe and strong  communities.” —MARIA BARRY

PROJECT: Dutton Flats | Santa Rosa, CA
Opened 2021
LIHTC EQUITY SYNDICATOR: Berkadia; Philadelphia, PA
FAVORITE OF: Marge Novak, Senior Vice President, Capital Markets, Berkadia’s Affordable Housing Team
DESCRIPTION: Dutton Flats is a new construction, 100 percent affordable project that consists of 41 units. It is geared toward those making 30 percent to 60 percent of area median income. The apartment complex primarily serves seniors and families. Designed with an eye toward walkability, Dutton Flats is within walking distance of shops, a transit hub and Santa Rosa Plaza mall. The complex features a fitness center, Bike Kitchen, children’s activity room and community gardens. One unit is reserved for an on-site manager. The project helped fill a crucial housing need in Sonoma County after so much housing stock was lost to fires.

We are taking one more step towards alleviating California’s affordable housing crisis. Over the last several years, the wildfires throughout Sonoma County have reduced the already inadequate supply of affordable housing. The addition of these 41 units is one of many milestones to come that will provide safe and stabilized affordable housing.” —MARGE NOVAK

PROJECT: St. Marks | Oakland, CA
Completed 2018
DEVELOPER: Fairstead; New York, NY
FAVORITE OF: Jordan Capellino, Director, Development, Fairstead
DESCRIPTION: St. Marks is a senior residence in the Chinatown section of downtown Oakland, CA that sits at the intersection of history and modern-day sustainability. The century-old building underwent one of Fairstead’s most comprehensive restoration programs involving a year-and-a-half seismic retrofit that essentially created a new foundation underneath a standing building and the installation of a solar roof, high-efficiency lighting, new low-flow plumbing fixtures and the conversion of gas-fired boilers to energy-saving heat pumps. Close collaboration and coordination with the building’s multilingual residents were vital to the success of this project.

St. Marks is a unique project and personal favorite of mine because of the complexity of its renovation plan and the impact it had on the community. Fairstead transformed a century-old building into a resilient, sustainable and affordable residence for seniors in the Bay Area.” —JORDAN CAPELLINO

PROJECT: Solar Conversion at Vintage Oaks | Citrus Heights, CA
Conversion completed 2010
DEVELOPER: USA Properties Fund, Inc.; Roseville, CA
FAVORITE OF: Geoffrey Brown, President & CEO, USA Properties Fund, Inc.
DESCRIPTION: USA Properties Fund, Inc. converted a Low Income Housing Tax Credit property to renewable solar power. The solar photovoltaic (PV) system, featuring rooftop solar panels, was installed at Vintage Oaks, a 241-unit seniors LIHTC community developed and managed by USA Properties Fund. The community no longer uses energy off the local power grid because of the half megawatt solar PV system, which was installed by Beutler Corporation.

What’s unique about Vintage Oaks is that it’s 100 percent solar. And that it is still relevant today given what is going on with energy. All energy costs continue to escalate, and this project is one we were able to do entirely as a solar project, enabling the community to not use energy off the grid, which provides significant savings on their utility bills.” —GEOFFREY BROWN

PROJECT: El Rancho Verde | San Jose, CA
Resyndicated 2018
BROKER: CBRE Affordable Housing; Seattle, WA
FAVORITE OF: Armand Tiberio, Vice Chair, CBRE Affordable Housing
DESCRIPTION: Sold for $370 million, the 700-unit El Rancho Verde is one of the largest tax credit properties in the country. The buyer applied for bonds and credits and the property received a major rehab that preserved the affordability and enhanced the quality of the building for a large number of residents in a very tight and tough area to find affordable housing.

It was a great thrill to see such a large asset trade hands and be preserved with the LIHTC program given the high difficulty of finding affordable units in San Jose.” —ARMAND TIBERIO

PROJECT: Harbor Village | Harbor City, CA
Opened in 1996
DEVELOPER: Related; New York, NY
FAVORITE OF: William Witte, Chairman, Related California
DESCRIPTION: A public-private partnership with The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Harbor Village is a 400-unit multifamily development built in 1996 as part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the Normont Terrace public housing project. The overall Harbor Village development consists of 624 attached and detached residences, of which 224 units were sold to individual homeowners, according to Related.

This was the first public housing redevelopment on the West Coast: 400 public housing units replaced by 624 total housing units, a mix of small-lot, single-family and townhomes, of which 400 were (and are) PBS8 and 224 are for-sale homes. The for- sale and rental units are integrated by cluster and share a broad range of amenities. All are on a prepaid 99-year lease from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. The rentals were refinanced/resyndicated five years ago.” —WILLIAM WITTE

PROJECT: Blue Butterfly Village | Los Angeles, CA
Opened April 2015
DEVELOPER: Volunteers of America; Los Angeles, CA
FAVORITE OF: Sharon Wilson Géno, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, National Services, Volunteers of America Inc.
DESCRIPTION: In a corner of a former naval base in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles sits Blue Butterfly Village, a sanctuary for homeless veterans and abuse survivors. The 73 homes at the Village were originally built in the 1990s for military personnel at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard as part of a large military housing campus. The shipyard closed in 1997 and in 2000 VOA applied to turn the empty, duplex units into housing for the homeless. The community includes the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly Sanctuary – an area protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is the habitat of an endangered species of butterfly.

Blue Butterfly Village is a truly supportive community, providing families with supportive housing services from counseling and case management to drug treatment and job training.” —SHARON WILSON GÉNO

Pamela Martineau is a freelance writer based in Portland, ME. She writes primarily about housing, local government, technology and education.
Mark Fogarty has covered housing and mortgages for more than 30 years. A former editor at National Mortgage News, he has written extensively about tax credits.