A Unique Solution for Affordable Housing
NOVEMBER 18, 2016 | BY CARRIE ROSSENFELD SANTA ANA, CA
Creative thinking and smart partnering are helping Community Development Partners convert a blighted motel here into permanent housing for chronically homeless and mentally ill people in the community, Kyle and Eric Paine tell GlobeSt.com EXCLUSIVELY. Eric Paine and Kyle Paine say you can repurpose blighted buildings to provide high-quality, safe, affordable housing with life enhancing amenities. SANTA ANA, CA—Creative thinking and smart partnering are helping Community Development Partners convert a blighted, two-story, 77-unit motel here into permanent housing for chronically homeless and mentally ill people living in Santa Anta’s Civic Center, president Kyle Paine and CEO Eric Paine tell GlobeSt.com. The Orchard (formerly known as Guest House), the firm’s most recent and current development, is a permanent supportive-housing project exclusively for 71 individuals and families that meet these criteria. The $18-million project, located at 2151 E. 1st St., which unites a diverse group of organizations and service providers, is the City of Santa Ana’s largest single investment in housing that addresses the homeless crisis facing much of Orange County.
The rehabilitated development, which will feature 72 units (including one manager’s unit), consists of 58 studio and 14 one-bedroom units dispersed throughout five two-story buildings. Upgrades include all-new unit interiors, on-site resident services and property-management offices, an outdoor courtyard, a laundry room, resident computers for Internet access and printing, a large outdoor community garden and learning cente and a guava and orange orchard. Additionally, the current leasing office and one unit from the former motel are being transformed into a 1,200 square-foot commercial kitchen and dining room, which will be operated by a non-profit that will provide meals for residents at little or no cost and create onsite job training opportunities. The development of the Orchard has created a unique partnership, bringing together a mission-driven private company (CDP), non-profit organizations Mercy House, the Ecology Center and Integrity Housing) and a public entity (the City of Santa Ana). The team will provide permanent supportive housing utilizing a Housing First model for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Housing First is a housing approach that assists people experiencing homelessness in finding and maintaining housing as quickly as possible, removing typical barriers to entry. Stable housing is seen as the foundation that allows individuals to pursue other health and independence goals. PSH is a combination of housing and services for people who need support to maintain housing. Services may include case management, substance abuse counseling and assistance with locating necessary community services. Housing First and PSH have been successfully used on a national scale as two complementary tools for ending chronic homelessness. We spoke exclusively with Kyle Paine and Eric Paine about what makes the Orchard unique and how they view the commitment to affordable housing in Orange County.
GlobeSt.com: What do you find most unique about the Orchard project?
Kyle Paine: The Orchard is the largest permanent supportive-housing project targeting chronically homeless in Orange County of which we we’re aware. The project was made possible through the will and support of the City. A new HAP contract for 100% of the units was executed by the City Housing Authority, something you don’t see often. Another unique aspect is that we partnered with Ecology Center, which guided the design of landscaping and led to additional project amenities include services above and beyond case management and counseling. The community garden in particular and the programming for the garden were created with the help of EC. Additional enhanced services at the property include a commercial-grade kitchen for preparing free or low-cost meals to residents and opportunities for onsite job-skill training in the kitchen. All these unique aspects helped us take a blighted motel being used as substandard housing and convert it into something aesthetically pleasing of which the neighborhood can be proud.
GlobeSt.com: How would you characterize Orange County developers’ commitment to affordablehousing development?
Kyle Paine: The affordable-housing developers in OC are definitely committed to affordable housing and are passionate about the mission of providing safe, quality, affordable housing to vulnerable populations who need it most. In my experience, market-rate developers like to avoid building affordable units since the market rents are so high in OC that the gap between affordable rents and market rate is extremely wide. Affordable housing development is its own niche, and developers that understand the funding programs (LIHTC, Section 8 vouchers, etc.) tend to focus on affordable housing. I should say the market-rate developers that end up paying in-lieu fees to avoid building affordable housing in their projects do provide a beneficial source of funding for affordable developers.
GlobeSt.com: Would you say that Orange County is more affordable-housing friendly than other regions in Southern California?
Kyle Paine: No, not historically. In general, OC is a difficult area to get affordable-housing project completed, simply due to high land/property values. Additionally, local resident opposition to proposed affordable developments that target lower AMI levels can make entitlement a harder process. With the rising rents over the last few years and a noticeable increase in the number of homeless persons in areas like the County Civic Center in Santa Ana, the lack of affordable housing is more obvious than ever. On top of that, media coverage of the problem has led to more cities feeling motivated to find solutions to get affordable housing constructed in their city, especially housing targeting deeper affordability levels or special-needs populations.
Eric Paine: Supportive housing—building housing that serves the needs of people like the chronically homeless and mentally ill, is hard to get approved. There is a strong degree of NIMBYism because you’re dealing with a segment of the population who most people would not want living close to them, but it’s hard to ignore the problem when you literally have to step over it to get into their offices, so something had to be done. This was the perfect opportunity to make something happen relatively quickly. The units were there, as well as the kitchens, and they could be occupied relatively quickly. From concept to figuring out financially how to make it work and getting people off the street, it’s been relatively quick.
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about this project?
Kyle Paine: First, the project couldn’t have been completed without the close collaboration of our partners. Mercy House has been an amazing partner offering its expertise in working with the chronically homeless population. The City has been extremely supportive, from working with us on the entitlements to supporting the project financially through providing soft financing and project-based vouchers. Ecology Center has provided us with amazing vision on how to take a blighted over-parked property and turn it into a lush environment with options for education and promoting sustainability. Second, the Orchard is a model for other cities and counties to follow. You can repurpose blighted buildings to provide high-quality, safe, affordable housing with life enhancing amenities.
Community Development Partners Announces The Orchard,
Unprecedented Santa Ana Project Serving Chronically Homeless
Santa Ana’s Investment in Ending Homelessness Forges Unique Partnership
Newport Beach, CA, October 25, 2016 – Community Development Partners is pleased to announce its most recent development, The Orchard (formerly known as Guest House). Located in Santa Ana, CA, the project will transform a blighted motel into a Permanent Supportive Housing project exclusively for 71 chronically homeless individuals and families. The $18 million project, which unites a diverse group of organizations and service providers, is the City of Santa Ana’s largest single investment in housing that addresses the homeless crisis facing much of Orange County.
Located at 2151 East 1st St. in Santa Ana, The Orchard will transform a two-story, 77-unit motel into Permanent Supportive Housing targeting the chronically homeless living in Santa Ana’s Civic Center. The rehabilitated development, which will feature 72 units (including one manager’s unit), consists of 58 studio and 14 one-bedroom units dispersed throughout five two-story buildings. Upgrades include all new unit interiors, on-site resident services and property management offices, an outdoor courtyard, a laundry room, resident computers for internet access and printing, a large outdoor community garden and learning center, and a guava and orange orchard. Additionally, the current leasing office and one unit from the former motel are being transformed into a 1,200 square-foot commercial kitchen and dining room, which will be operated by a non-profit who will provide meals for residents at little or no cost and create onsite job training opportunities.
Kyle Paine, President of Community Development Partners (CDP), the project’s developer, says, “We’re excited that The Orchard is providing an innovative and effective way to both address the homeless crisis prominent in Santa Ana’s Civic Center, and create a sense of community. Through our partner, Mercy House, dedicated case-managers will be on-site to help formerly chronically homeless residents maintain stable housing. The service-oriented, comprehensive approach at The Orchard will offer this highly vulnerable population a high level of support, which we believe will lead to a high level of success.”
Permanent Supportive Housing
The development of The Orchard has created a unique partnership, bringing together a mission driven private company (Community Development Partners), non-profit organizations (Mercy House, The Ecology Center, Integrity Housing) and a public entity (The City of Santa Ana). The team will provide Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) utilizing a Housing First model for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Housing First is a housing approach that assists people experiencing homelessness in finding and maintaining housing as quickly as possible, removing typical barriers to entry. Stable housing is seen as the foundation that allows individuals to pursue other health and independence goals. PSH is a combination of housing and services for people who need support to maintain housing. Services may include case management, substance abuse counseling, and assistance with locating necessary community services. Housing First and PSH have been successfully used on a national scale as two complementary tools for ending chronic homelessness.
Santa Ana City Leadership
Santa Ana Ward 1 Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Vicente Sarmiento, says, “The Orchard is the first Permanent Supportive Housing project for chronically homeless individuals in Santa Ana, and one of the largest projects to provide housing for homeless individuals in Orange County. We are proud to make this great investment into improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable members in our community.”
In June, the Santa Ana City Council unanimously approved approximately $1.2 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds for The Orchard. HOME is the largest Federal block grant to state and local governments exclusively to create affordable housing. Additionally, the City of Santa Ana awarded 71 project-based vouchers to The Orchard totaling up to $998,496 per year for a 15-year term, which will provide rental assistance for the residents, the majority of whom have little income to cover rents. The City’s significant investment in The Orchard solidifies the City of Santa Ana’s commitment to providing long-term housing for the chronically homeless.
Orange County’s Civic Center located in Santa Ana has been home to many homeless individuals. An August 2016 count indicated there were 461 individuals sleeping on the street in Santa Ana’s Civic Center on a single night. Last summer, there were 16,375 applicants for subsidized Section 8 housing in Santa Ana.
Mercy House Leads Support Services
The Orchard partner, Mercy House, will be the lead service provider for the project offering wrap-around supportive services tailored to the needs of the residents. On-site case managers or “housing stabilization specialists” will strive to keep the residents housed and healthy. Topics covered in the individual case management services and group classes will include money management (budgeting, debt management, savings planning, credit restoration), educational/job skills training and resources, parenting skills, life skills training, medical/mental health resources and referrals for community services. Mercy House is helping fund the intensive case management services provided on-site through a Continuum of Care grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Mercy House has been providing housing and comprehensive supportive services for a variety of homeless populations for nearly 30 years in Orange County, CA. The company’s Executive Director, Larry Haynes, was the company’s first employee in the early 1990’s, and he has been fighting homelessness ever since.
“Housing works. Projects like The Orchard are the answer to ending homelessness, for even the most problematic of situations,” says Haynes. “And what’s more, The Orchard is providing housing in a really dignified and beautiful way. That isn’t always the norm with housing for the chronically homeless.”
The Ecology Center Brings Innovation
Beyond providing housing, CDP strives to provide life-enriching amenities with programming that connects residents with their communities. At The Orchard, CDP is partnering with The Ecology Center. Based in San Juan Capistrano, The Ecology Center is a non-profit educational center that teaches hands-on environmental solutions for issues surrounding food, water, energy, waste, and shelter. The Ecology Center will sponsor an on-site garden which will beautify the distressed motel grounds, and provide a space for educational and life-enriching activities. Gardening experts from The Ecology Center will teach residents how to cultivate their own source of nutritional food. The food grown on-site will be harvested and served from the commercial kitchen.
Evan Marks, Founder of The Ecology Center, explains, “The Orchard residents will have the opportunity to participate in the entire farm-to-table process—planting, nurturing, cultivating, harvesting, preparing, and eating the food grown in the on-site garden. It will be both a life-enriching activity and help residents to develop valuable life skills.”
About Community Development Partners
Founded in 2011, Community Development Partners develops and operates sustainable, life-enhancing affordable housing with a focus on long term community engagement and innovative design. The company’s mission is to repair and strengthen the fabric of cities and towns by meeting the housing needs of local citizens through the thoughtful planning and creative development of sustainable, affordable communities. The company is based in Orange County and has developed or currently operates properties in Arizona, California, and Oregon. For more information, visit: communitydevpartners.com.
Orange County Approves $8 Million in Housing for Homeless, Selects Mercy House to Run Shelter
(Santa Ana, California) — Orange County is taking action on homelessness.
Just one week after adopting Supervisor Andrew Do’s plan to transform a Santa Ana bus terminal into a transitional homeless shelter, the Orange County Board of Supervisors has approved $8 million to provide housing for people who currently living on the streets or at risk of becoming homeless.
In addition to approving $8 million for “housing-for-homeless” programs, Orange County also selected the non-profit Mercy House Living Centers to operate the county’s first, permanent year-round shelter, located at 1000 N. Kraemer Place in Anaheim. Continue Reading.
County Approves Homeless Shelter, Armory Shelter Operator
Faces of Orange County
Lawrence G. Haynes, Jr., Executive Director of Mercy House
Faith. A calling. Teamwork. Those are just a few descriptions of how Larry Haynes ended up at Mercy House, a nonprofit that provides services to the homeless in Orange County. Even the loss of a previous job helped direct his path. “I worked as a case manager at another agency for two years. I was fired for insubordination. At the time, I thought I was irreplaceable.” Yet, for the thousands Mercy House has sheltered since Haynes became Executive Director 26 years ago, that misstep was a blessing. Continue Reading.
Homeless Task Force Receives Recommendations
Members of the Homeless Task Force were given three recommendations that would provide housing for more than 40 individuals in the city.
The city has been working with Mercy House, an organization that provides housing and comprehensive supportive services for a variety of homeless populations, to conduct a by-name list that provides data on Dana Point’s homeless population.
Larry Haynes, executive director of the Mercy House, told the task force there are as many as 43 homeless people sleeping in the city as of Sept. 1. Continue Reading.