Transforming Lives and Communities in San Marcos

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Situation

In 1997, National CORE, in partnership with the City of San Marcos, began the process of reclaiming the Richmar neighborhood. This neighborhood is the city’s oldest and most challenged, previously suffering from crime, gang activity and the lack of several modern amenities including parks, transit, updated infrastructure, and high-quality and professionally-managed senior and workforce housing. This neighborhood is home to more than 15,000 individuals, 71 percent of whom fall within the federally established guidelines for low-moderate income.

Approach

For 15 years, CORE has worked hand-in-hand with the City of San Marcos to steadily eradicate crime and poverty, and to transform the Richmar neighborhood into a well-planned and healthy community. CORE’s first community renovation in this neighborhood, Villa Serena Apartments, was completed in 1998 and provided 136 units of quality affordable housing. In 2000, Sierra Vista Apartments were acquired and renovated, providing 192 homes. Our first new construction in the redevelopment area was Melrose Villas and these 114 units were developed to address the needs of low-income workforce employees in San Marcos. In 2001, the mixed-use development Paseo del Oro was built and added 120 homes and 23,000 square feet of retail space. Westlake Village, another mixed-use community featuring 106 homes and 6,000 square feet of retail space, opened in 2014 and is the capstone of the transformation of this previously crime-ridden area.

Result

The Richmar neighborhood now boasts a combination of new and completely rehabilitated affordable housing communities, single-family market-rate homes (the first in more than two decades), major infrastructure improvements, new parks, open space, public transportation, a new elementary school, school district offices, healthy food choices, new grocery stores, a state-of-the-art Boys and Girls Club and many new retail shopping opportunities, all of which have re-invigorated the area. CORE’s expertise in project development, construction, property management and onsite social services brings with it a unique ability to transform communities by providing the complete array of resources needed to help low-income families move in, move up, and move beyond to self-sufficiency. Today, CORE owns and manages 668 units serving more than 2,500 residents in San Marcos, with just as many families on the waiting list in the hope of being able to live in this award-winning community.

Resident Stories

Fernando

Fernando Lopez lives in National CORE’s Westlake Village community with his two sons, 7-year-old Eric and 6-year-old Gael. “It’s a very different community from where I was living before,” Fernando says. “In my old neighborhood, there were a lot of gangs. Now we are in a safe neighborhood.” Both Eric and Gael attend the community’s onsite afterschool program, where they receive homework assistance, eat a nutritious snack and practice their reading skills—all in a safe, supervised environment. Fernando works late into the evening and is thankful to know that his kids are well taken care of while he’s away. “I would like to thank the program for the help and support it has given my family,” Fernando says. “Above all, the staff has helped my kids catch up with school when they had fallen behind. The patience of the staff is unmatched.”

Deborah

Deborah Duncan and her dog “Petey” call San Marcos home. She likes that the park, market, library and civic center are all within walking distance. She doesn’t have a car but uses nearby public transportation, including the bus, the Sprinter train and the Coaster train to go into San Diego. She has lived in the Richmar Neighborhood for more than three years and recently moved into CORE’s new Westlake Village apartments. The 60-year-old feels very safe in the community and walks her dog outside at night. “I really love living here,” says Deborah, “and Petey does too.” As a person with special needs, Deborah is able to live independently here. She meets with her social worker Anita once a week and is currently working with her in the computer lab to look online for employment opportunities. Deborah wants to work with animals and “Petey” has given her lots of good practice.

Myrna

Myrna Ortiz and her husband were looking for a community in which to raise their children when they found National CORE’s Paseo del Oro apartments. “It’s a very peaceful area,” Myrna says. “I think my family is safe here. It’s a very peaceful and safe community for my children.” The couple and their three children, 9-year-old Eduardo, 6-year-old Emily and 4-year old Librado, now feel at home in the community. “All the neighbors here greet each other and make sure that we’re all doing well,” Myrna says. “Everybody here knows each other.” She is also grateful for the many programs that Hope through Housing Foundation offers her children in the onsite community center. “They help my kids do their homework and allow them to socialize with other kids their age,” Myrna says. “They also take them to the park and do more than just focusing on their homework.”

Our work in San Marcos

Timeline:

15-year Revitalization Effort

Total Developments:

5

Total Units:

668

Residents served:

2,500+

Affordability:

30 to 60 percent of Area Median Income

New Construction:

3 Developments

Acquisition/Rehab:

2 Developments

Retail space:

30,000 square feet

Onsite Amenities:
  • Community and Learning Centers
  • Computer Rooms
  • Playgrounds
Onsite Services:
  • Afterschool Programs (K-8)
  • Preschool
Awards
  • 2001 National Association of Home Builders
    Pillars of the Industry Finalist Best Rehab (Villa Serena)
  • 2002 Affordable Housing Management Association
    Exemplary Family Property (Villa Serena)
  • 2003 San Diego Housing Federation
    New Construction Project of the Year (Paseo del Oro)
  • 2003 American Planning Association
    HUD Secretary Opportunity & Empowerment Award (Paseo del Oro)
  • 2003 National Association of Home Builders
    Pillars of the Industry Finalist Best Mixed-Use Development (Paseo del Oro)
  • 2005 National Association of Home Builders
    Innovation in Workforce Housing Award of Distinction (Paseo del Oro)

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