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Planners approve North Park senior housing project that will be LGBT friendly

SAN DIEGO, California -- The San Diego Planning Commission voted 5-0 Thursday to recommend that the City Council approve a 194-unit development in North Park that will be LGBT friendly. Two commissioners recused themselves from the vote.

The Arizona Street Development project by Community HousingWorks has greater density than typically approved in the area, but the trade-off is that it will be a short walk to the rapid transit bus line at El Cajon Boulevard and Texas Street that runs from Downtown to San Diego State University. The complex will be built on the northwest corner of Texas Street and Howard Avenue, near the McDonalds fast-food restaurant.

The complex will include one building with 118 units, including 23 units dedicated to people who earn very low income.

A second building will contain 76 apartments for seniors. The developer is partnering with The San Diego LGBT Community Center to assure that LGBT seniors will find the apartment complex is LGBT friendly and would provide a safe, inclusive and affirming environment for all residents.

Dave Gatzke, CHW's vice president of acquisitions, told multihousingnews.com that the seniors complex will be in the middle of the LGBT community in San Diego:

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.”

Numerous national studies in recent years have pointed to a greater need for senior housing that is inclusive. Many LGBT elders, having lived an open and authentic life, fear having to go back into the closet to survive in senior housing.

The Center plans to offer on-site programs and services to all residents of the seniors building.

The Daily Transcript reported this:

The developer is pursuing additional funding, including low-income housing tax credits, so that it can make all of the senior units affordable, said Dave Gatzke, CHW's vice president of acquisitions.

Gatzke said organizations like his have to find creative ways to fund and develop affordable housing following the dissolution of redevelopment agencies and cutbacks in federal funding.

“We proposed what will be Community HousingWorks' first mixed-income development and also proposed a fairly aggressive use of the density bonus to really deliver both the smart growth and the responsible use of land that these sites called for, but also maximize our ability to deliver the affordable units,” Gatzke told the Planning Commission.

The City Council is expected to review the proposal in late January.

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