Guests included national legislators, state lawmakers, and local officials whose districts include Arrowhead Grove: Congressmember David E. Price, Chair of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Subcommittee; Congressmembers Norma Torres and Pete Aguilar; California State Treasurer Fiona Ma; State Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Reyes; San Bernardino County Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr.; San Bernardino City Councilmember Theodore Sanchez and City Manager Robert Field; and T-HUD and House Appropriations Committee senior staff.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Key elected officials in the national, state, and local housing landscape toured the affordable housing community of Crestview Terrace in San Bernardino Tuesday, the third phase of the redevelopment of the Greater Arrowhead Grove Neighborhood. The development is a model for the future, applying innovative approaches and creating strong public-private partnerships to build much-needed affordable housing. With a complex financial structure, Arrowhead Grove demonstrates the vital role of affordable housing in building strong communities for residents, neighborhoods, and the nation.
The elected officials visited Crestview Terrace as it nears completion – the latest milestone in a successful public-private collaboration that has transformed the 38-acre, 242-unit former 1940s public housing site of Waterman Gardens. Upon completion, the Greater Arrowhead Grove Neighborhood will offer the community 321 beautiful and affordable apartment homes. Arrowhead Grove is one of the only affordable housing communities to be built in San Bernardino in recent years, bringing much-needed investment to the city.
The officials met leaders of the development team, including National CORE President/CEO Steve PonTell, Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino (HACSB) Executive Director Maria Razo, National CORE founder and Board Chairman Jeff Burum, Hope through Housing President Greg Bradbard, and CommonSpirit Health Foundation Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer Dan Murphy.
National CORE continues to look for nontraditional funding sources and partners to develop critical housing for all income levels, including engaging in innovative partnerships with health care providers like CommonSpirit, a financial partner for Arrowhead Grove. The connection between health and housing is receiving national attention, as these types of public-private partnerships demonstrate the importance of housing in building strong communities where residents thrive.
On Tuesday, National CORE President/CEO Steve PonTell thanked Congressmember Price for including language in last year’s T-HUD appropriations bill concluding that “homelessness can unnecessarily drive up Medicaid costs through excessive use of emergency room care, and that providing housing and resident services to this population can reduce such costs.” The language directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to explore the use of Medicaid waivers for affordable housing for families at risk of homelessness that are experiencing runaway health costs.
President of the Hope Through Housing Foundation Greg Bradbard, whose organization provides supportive services onsite at all National CORE communities, commented, “Supportive resident services are a critical part of the health and housing connection and have been enormously important to our residents over the last year as we became a lifeline during the COVID pandemic. We appreciate Congressmember Aguilar’s ongoing work to sponsor legislation that would provide grants to affordable housing developers to fund onsite wraparound services to residents.”
At the tour Tuesday, the elected officials, and leaders from National CORE and HACSB discussed what is working well and what needs to be improved upon in affordable housing finance, exchanging innovative ideas. Congressmembers Price, Aguilar, and Torres each sit on both the House Appropriations Committee and its Transportation and HUD subcommittee (of which Congressmember Price is Chair), which led to discussions about the various funding sources for affordable housing. Congressmember Price said that he was impressed by Arrowhead Grove’s multiple funding streams, recognizing the complex behind-the-scenes work and public-private collaboration that go into financing affordable housing developments.
“It’s very inspiring to see the way some of the work we do has come together in a project like this one. Several elements, several streams, have come together. You folks who put these things together – it looks so complicated,” Price said. “But you get very good at it, and I do admire that I know National CORE has gotten very good at it.” He continued, “It’s not exactly boilerplate, far from it, but there are ways these things can be done and can be put together. And the kind of example you’ve set, the kind of work you do – it does become a template for what happens in other communities across the country and how we design the programs and how we make the funding available.”
Arrowhead Grove uses a complex funding structure, including HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and HOME financing sources, the California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) funding (the first time that California cap and trade dollars have been brought to San Bernardino County), and 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
Congressmember Price, Treasurer Ma, and the other elected officials agreed that there is a great need for higher allocations of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and that it is important that states like California and North Carolina that use their full allocation receive leftover credits unused by other states.
In addition to other innovative ideas, Treasurer Ma proposed an idea of Burum’s – an infrastructure revolving loan program. “Setting up a no-interest, low-interest fund that developers can access, and then once the first phase is built, they can put it back in the fund for other housing, would be very, very helpful,” Treasurer Ma said.
The group had the opportunity to meet a single mom of three who is grateful for her new apartment home at Crestview Terrace. She had been living in her car, and motels when she could afford it, for more than two years. “To go from that to actually having a place to stay, I mean, it’s huge,” she said.
National CORE Founder Jeff Burum, who himself grew up in affordable housing, underscored the nation’s obligation to provide affordable housing options for all Americans.
“I want to thank Congressman Aguilar for his ongoing commitment to the region and for bringing national leaders, such as Congressman Price, to see the great work that is happening in his district,” said Burum. “It has been an honor to have Congressman Price and the other leaders on this tour, who consistently advocate for National CORE and the affordable housing industry. We hope that elected officials nationwide will see your example and keep housing at the forefront of their work, not only by building new developments, but also by preserving and rehabilitating the important affordable housing that we already have.”
Congressmember Price said the United States currently has a unique opportunity to address the housing crisis. “We benefit from this kind of visit, we appreciate the work you do, and I appreciate the chance to be here with Pete and Norma, who are very dedicated members of our committee. They care about transportation, but I think they especially care about housing, because it’s so close to the needs of our communities. And we are working every day to hold up our end of the bargain,” Congressmember Price said. “This is maybe a once in a decade kind of opportunity we have right now to do something non-incremental.”
Later, after touring a three-bedroom apartment home in Crestview Terrace and walking around the surrounding community, Congressmember Price remarked, “this is housing that people are proud to live in.”
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About National Community Renaissance (National CORE)
National CORE is one of the nation’s premier affordable housing developers, building award-winning communities and creating a platform for individual and community change. National CORE creates strong, healthy communities where residents can thrive. In partnership with the Hope through Housing Foundation, National CORE provides impactful resident programs and services to help children and teens achieve success, improve families’ financial well-being, and promote senior health and wellness. For more information on National CORE, please visit www.nationalcore.org.