On July 7, 2005 the Davis Enterprise reported on the ground breaking ceremony for
The projected was funded through a mixture of federal and state funding.
By April of 2006, it was already clear that there were unforeseen problems.
The Davis Enterprise quotes Cindy Unger, vice chairwoman of the Davis Senior Housing Cooperative, which oversees Eleanor Roosevelt Circle,
“The definitions in that HCD grant are a little more than I think we bargained for…. It talks about homeless people. Originally, we were talking about low-income. Now they have to meet a disabled, homeless and elderly requirement… The HUD (Housing and Urban Development) requirement was specifically for seniors, but the HCD did not specify age… Housing and Community Development told me (the developers) were walking a very fine line.”
Developer David Thompson countered:
The project is being built exactly as it was planned and approved. “ERC was intended to be for low- and very low-income seniors. However, funding for senior housing is very difficult to obtain and very competitive. We were asked to find as much funding from external sources as possible.”
Councilmember Don Saylor said: “These are
But in fact, the project is not required to provide services, as Thompson stated in April.
Councilmember Stephen Souza said at the meeting that he was excited to get the project under way. While Saylor added: “This project will provide a housing source in the community for the people who have little option and who need it.”
Unfortunately instead of being a decent but imperfect solution to the problem of affordable senior housing, this is turning quickly into a fiasco. For the second time in two months, Mayor Sue Greenwald reported at the last City Council Meeting that there are massive numbers of vacancies in
The project is beset by numerous problems including problems of an undesirable location and distance from public transportation. In addition, there is no assisted living. And while it is classified as “affordable,” it is classified for a high end of affordability and provides a relatively small dwelling for what is still a decent chunk of money.
Moreover, as disabled advocate Anne Evans suggests, the requirements imposed in order to gain the grants are so restrictive that they cut off a large group of people who might otherwise be interested in taking advantage of the system.
“I have been interested in affordable senior housing – since I became disabled several years ago with breast cancer. I was not allowed to put in an application for the senior units because most places required seniors to be at least 62 years of age.”
Many other cities have units available for disabled seniors 55 and older. However, the
The problem here is that you are talking about only a small number of units for truly low income people and once you get up to the upper end, you are talking about nearly $1000 for a ~ 600 foot one bedroom apartment. That is a very small dwelling. You can get other apartments in Davis that are considerably larger than that for not much more than $1000.
So we now have a facility that received a tremendous amount of state and local funding, that remains nearly vacant. The proposal was supposed to help people within this community stay in our community as they age, and now city government are having to go statewide with their advertising efforts to recruit prospective tenants to fill the vacancies.
The City Council needs to order an audit on this project and evaluate exactly what went wrong. As we have reported in recent weeks, there is a great and expanding need for affordable housing. The housing market is rapidly pricing many lower and middle income people out of the area. This project should have been a boon for the senior community, serving a vital niche and instead it has become an absolute fiasco.
It seems clear that future project approvals need to look more carefully at a number of factors. First, they need to look at the people who will be serviced by the project to ascertain if the requirements are serving the people who actually need them.
Second they need to look at the location of the project. This location is problematic at best in terms of desirability of living but also availability of transportation.
Third, they need to look at what services are provided in the project. There are no assisted living services. So that generally closes off people with special needs. There is limited disabled facilities. So another group of seniors is closed off too.