From the CEO
Businesses the key to shifting NIMBYs to YIMBYs
Steve PonTell, President and CEO
National Community Renaissance
At a recent economic summit in Ontario, California, my friend Tim Johnson described NIMBYism as the No. 1 challenge facing the housing market. Countering that, he went on to argue, will require the full-throttled support of the business community. It’s a great point. As Chairman of the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino, Tim sees how important the connection is between workforce housing and a community’s economic viability. If an employer is to have any chance of hiring and keeping good young talent, there needs to be an abundance of quality, affordable housing. More broadly, a lack of attainable housing creates overcrowding, which creates additional burdens on a community’s infrastructure and resources – ultimately costing residents, and businesses, in the form of higher taxes and fees. If we’re to address the housing crisis, businesses must make their voices heard. As an industry, builders and developers can help, by enlisting the support of their local businesses. Together, we can shift the conversation from “not in my backyard” to “yes in my backyard.”
Addressing Poverty in Our Communities
National CORE hosted a private event on Thursday, February 1st on how to address poverty in our communities led by Maurice Lim Miller, founder of the Family Independence Initiative (FII). Miller, a MacArthur Fellow, discussed his latest book, The Alternative: Most of What You Believe About Poverty is Wrong, in which he shares his own life experiences and how they led him to create solutions that made it possible for low-income working families to escape the trappings of poverty.
His philosophy is simple, “invest in people’s demonstrated strength, rather than their weaknesses.” Miller created FII with the goal of helping low-income working families – who often struggle in isolated circumstances or without clear direction – build their own pathways to self-sufficiency. The success of the program is seen in the numbers:
Over two years enrolled in FII, with an average investment directly to families of $2400, on average families report:
- Yearly income grew by $5,856 (or 2.4 times the investment)
- Assets grew by $5,031 (2.1 times the investment)
- 19% of FII families are entrepreneurs compared to 13% of Americans
- Average decrease in subsidies, such as TANF and SNAP is 60%
For more information on FII, go to their website at https://www.fii.org/.
A Life Transformed: Jennifer Cheung
Jennifer Cheung is a local resident whose success story might not have been possible without affordable housing. Her residence in a National Core apartment community allowed Jennifer to grow professionally, support her family, and even give back to her community.
In 2009, as a newly divorced single mother with two children, Jennifer found she could only barely afford a one bedroom apartment at a cost exceeding $1000 per month. She said, “I was paying $1000+ for a one bedroom. There was no room for my two kids when they came to stay with me. After 9 months, they also raised my rent.” The rent increase was about to force her out altogether. She explained, “I was a stay-at- home mom for 16 years and getting a divorce meant I had no income to afford an apartment in this affluent
neighborhood.” She figured she could move to a more affordable area, but that would push her far away from her children’s school (which had always been within walking distance of home), her parents, and her former spouse with whom she was sharing custody. Jennifer was worried that her children would be isolated from their school friends, far away and unable to grow together.
At the same time, Jennifer’s parents were living in Vista Terraza, a National Core affordable housing community in Carmel Valley. At her parents’ suggestion, she visited the manager at the Vista Terraza office to inquire
about moving to the residence. Thanks to her parents’ encouragement, her sharp resourcefulness, and some lucky timing, Jennifer was able to qualify for and move into Vista Terraza in 2010, just a short time after her inquiry. She was even able to qualify for a two bedroom unit, which gave her and her kids the space they all needed to thrive. Even the location was perfect: the family was just around the corner from the kids’ school and Jennifer’s former spouse’s residence, allowing for a much more convenient sharing of custody.
Because Jennifer began to spend significantly less on her rent, she was able to return to school and complete her Master’s degree at San Diego State University in Applied Mathematics. Teaching classes and successfully making ends meet, Jennifer was able to spend more valuable time with her children. She explained, “It helped me that I could work part time, and with my spousal support, I didn’t have to work two jobs and take time away from my kids.” As a testament to her drive and potential, Jennifer was also chosen for the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program. She now has a thriving career as a Cyber Security Engineer.
To top off her success story, about three months ago Jennifer closed escrow on a condo that she purchased just a short distance away from Vista Terraza. She is now the proud owner of a bright 1300-square foot condo, with one large bedroom, a 1 ½ bath, a loft, and plenty of room for
her and her children. Her parents still live nearby at Vista Terraza. Thanks to her access to affordable housing, Jennifer has become the success story that we would like to see all of our residents achieve. She completed her education, she secured a higher paying job, had the ability to purchase her own condo home and most importantly was able to keep her family close and secure.
She attributes a lot of her success to affordable housing in particular, revealing “I was grateful that even after I had found full time work once my kids were older, I was allowed to stay in the affordable housing. I think this is crucial for my success story. It allowed me to save money to buy my condo. Also, my parents are still living there. It allowed them to live closer to their grandkids.”
Jennifer is presently very involved in the local community and committed to giving back: “Currently, I am involved with the local LeanIn group, supporting local women. I am also a mentor for college kids, helping them to bridge their education and careers.”
She is also a STEM education advocate, encouraging kids of all ages—from kindergartners to college seniors—to pursue their interests in STEM fields and careers.
Affordable Housing in the News
“California politicians are not serious about addressing affordable housing: Joel Kotkin”
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
“Affordable housing crisis: Can Sacramento get it under control?”
The Mercury News
“City of Atlanta Seeks Proposals for Innovative Affordable Housing Design”
“Finding Hope through Housing for neighbors” by Gregory Bradbard
News and Notes
Around National CORE
Alta Vista, Los Angeles, CA
Cathedral Palms, Cathedral City, CA
Heritage Pointe, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Mission Cove, Oceanside, CA
San Emi, Montclair, CA
San Marino, Montclair, CA
Toys for Tots, San Diego
Villaggio on Route 66, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Westlake Village & Villa Serena, San Marcos, CA