From the CEO
Lack of attainable housing contributes to poverty crisis
Steve PonTell, President and CEO
National Community Renaissance
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel discussion tied to the release of the Orange County, Calif., Community Indicators Report. Among the troubling statistics released that day: Nearly 1 in 4 residents live in poverty, and with a cost of living 85 percent above the national average, two-thirds of local jobs don’t pay enough for a worker to rent a one-bedroom apartment. The OC isn’t alone in struggling with income and housing inequity. Like many communities in California and elsewhere, Orange County has struggled to overcome the objections of those who oppose growth of any kind. This is often at the expense of their own children, who increasingly cannot afford to live in the communities they grew up in. That sad reality might be the best chance we’ve got for true change – to convince leaders at the local level that a broad mix of housing options is in their best interests of their communities. And as much as we need strong housing policy at the state and federal level, this is, first and foremost, a local issue. It’s time for local government to stand up and make a difference. To that end, here are some suggestions:
- Be mythbusters: Have the facts on the role of housing and its importance to the future of your community.
- Be creative: Don’t wait for DC or Sacramento to solve your housing problems. Local government has the tools. Use them.
- Be for something: The forces of growth opposition are growing; we must organize, too, before important projects are brought forth.
National CORE breaks ground on first on-site phase of former Waterman Gardens
Construction will begin soon on the first on-site phase of the Arrowhead Grove Neighborhood Revitalization project – formerly Waterman Gardens – after ground was broken June 29 on the $150 million to $200 million redevelopment effort. The revitalization of the World War II-era public housing community will be phased in over the next six years, filling a housing void and serving as an economic catalyst for the neighborhood and the city. The groundbreaking of Olive Meadow – the first onsite phase – came as work is finishing on the 76-unit Valencia Vista workforce housing community at Valencia Avenue and 9th Street, adjacent to the Waterman Gardens site. Valencia Vista, which is expected to open this fall, was designed in part to help ease the transition for residents of Arrowhead Grove as demolition begins.
The overall Arrowhead Grove plan calls for 411 new housing units, including the replacement of the 252 existing affordable units. National CORE is the master developer of the project, in partnership with the City of San Bernardino and the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino.
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Lives Transformed: Giving back after years of desperation and homelessness
Living homeless in “the field,” raising her young daughter by whatever means she could, Lisa Ponder often wondered if she would ever again have a roof over her head. Life in a tent – surrounded by others who, like you, had lost just about everything – will do that to a person. “Something happens to you in the field,” she says. “People stop caring, they stop everything. You get accustomed to not eating. You get accustomed to not bathing. You become abandonized.”
Abandonized. The field. Abandoes (abandoned buildings used as makeshift shelter). The language of the street never leaves you once you’ve walked in Lisa’s shoes. She pauses, and looks tearfully at Dominique, now 8 years old. “I don’t want us to ever stop caring.” With the help of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino and National CORE, Lisa managed to escape the field – an open-air homeless encampment not far from the Arrowhead Grove Neighborhood Revitalization project. Today, she and Dominique live in Arrowhead Grove – formerly Waterman Gardens – and soon will have the opportunity to live in the first off-site phase of the community’s $150 million to $200 million redevelopment. The 47-year-old says it is the first time in her entire adulthood that she has experienced hope. “I always thought this was a place for other people, not me,” Lisa says, again shifting her focus to her daughter, a wide-eyed fourth grader with a contagious smile. “She’s a star student. After we moved in here, she was named Scientist of the Year in her class.”
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Kaiser awards $15,000 grant to Hope through Housing to help reduce food insecurity for seniors
The Hope through Housing Foundation has been approved for a $15,000 grant by the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals-Fontana to provide fresh food and health screenings for more than 300 low-income seniors. The funding will help support the Fresh Food Fontana program, which addresses the dire need of low-income seniors for healthy and consistent food availability. As part of the program, Hope through Housing and volunteers prepare a “dignity grocery store” each month serving four National CORE properties in Fontana. “We’re very grateful for the ongoing support of the Kaiser Foundation to Fresh Food Fontana,” said Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, President of the Hope through Housing Foundation. “As a result of their generosity, 300 seniors will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and be able to adopt healthier eating habits – one of the greatest challenges facing our aging population.”
National CORE partners with USC to provide health assistance to seniors
Denise Clayton knows she had been neglecting her dental care. With the assistance of health professional students from the University of Southern California, she’s getting the help she needs. Clayton is among residents of National CORE’s Little Lake Village Apartments in Santa Fe Springs taking part in the Inter-professional Geriatric Curriculum (IPGC), an innovative course that pairs USC students with low-income seniors facing chronic illnesses. IPGC has partnered with the Hope through Housing Foundation to make the services available to Little Lake Village residents.
“I felt like I have my own in-house medical team. They made me feel wonderful. They made me feel special,” says Clayton, 63. “I love the idea of a one-stop service for seniors. It’s a really good program.”
The goal of the program is twofold: To better educate students from dentistry, medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant practice, pharmacy and social work about what the other professions do, and to provide health assessments, exams and referrals for disadvantaged senior citizens. Senior citizens are ideal patients for a multidisciplinary patient care model because of the often wide variety of medical issues they deal with. “The integration of affordable senior housing with health-care and supportive services is absolutely essential to addressing one of our country’s most pressing public health concerns,” said Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, President of Hope through Housing. “We’re appreciative of the partnership with USC and see this as a bold step forward.”
National CORE receives more than $2 million in AHP funding
National CORE was awarded more than $2 million in grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP). “We appreciate the Federal Home Loan Bank’s commitment to affordable housing, which is essential to the health and well being of any community,” said Steve PonTell, President and Chief Executive Officer of National CORE. The three National CORE projects selected for funding were among 85 AHP awardees in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, the $76 million that was awarded will create more than 6,300 units of affordable housing. The selected National CORE projects are:
Mission Cove Family I in Oceanside, which was awarded $890,000, and the adjoining Mission Cove Family II, which was awarded $590,000. The Mission Home communities consist of 150 rental homes for families, seniors, veterans and special needs residents, and are part of a transformational mixed-use development that includes attainable housing and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial, business and professional office space.
Oakcrest Heights/Savi Ranch II in Yorba Linda, which was awarded $530,000. The 54-unit community is aimed at households classified as low-income, very low-income and extremely low-income. A number of the units will be set aside for transitional age youth and adults moving out of foster care and into permanent independent living.
Save the Date
Upcoming events for National CORE and Hope through Housing. For more information, please contact Christy Schroeder at email@example.com or call (909) 204-3423.
“An Evening of Hope”
Affordable Housing in the News
Seniors face housing, health crisis
San Diego Union Tribune
Affordable housing, with services, can break cycle of poverty
Report: Hundreds of thousands in Orange County are struggling financially
Orange County Register
News and Notes
Around National CORE
CEO Steve PonTell (right) joined several members of the National CORE family in wishing Dan Nackerman well in his new role as executive director of the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City. Dan is the former executive director of the Housing Authority of the County San Bernardino.
Residents and staff at the Cottages and Stone Ridge (Little Rock, Ark.) celebrated a community-wide Fun Day on June 8.
Summer barbecue fun at Sycamore Springs (Alta Loma, Calif.).
Our countdown to smoke-free communities. This banner is at Mission Pointe (Riverside, Calif.).
Father’s Day luau at the Mission Village Senior Apartments (Riverside, Calif.).
Four sets of twins at Villaggio (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) help celebrate July birthdays for our maintenance team.
Garage sale at Villaggio.