Offering Seniors 62+ Dignity and Independence
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. – Charlie greets each new day looking out his bedroom window to view the sunrise as it appears over the San Gabriel Mountains. “It’s the first thing I do every morning. It’s very peaceful for me,” he remarks. This has become a daily ritual for Charlie since moving into his new apartment home at Day Creek Senior Villas in Rancho Cucamonga, a beautiful affordable housing community developed by National CORE for seniors 62 and better.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Charlie has been living in the Inland Empire for more than 26 years and has watched rental prices more than double during that time. In 2019, after undergoing surgery, Charlie was unable to continue working. At 68, Charlie had no job and a bleak outlook for the future.
“I hadn’t planned for retirement. I had worked my whole life, but it was very hard for me to think about retirement in the long-term and what would happen once I stopped working.”
Friends started helping Charlie cover the cost of rent and groceries. While he was grateful for their support, it was unnerving relying on others’ generosity. He was used to being independent and it was distressing leaning on others for help, even if they were his friends. Soon, Charlie realized that he could no longer afford to live in the city that had been his home for the past 19 years.
Charlie’s experience is becoming more commonplace. The National Council on Aging reports that more than 25 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure, living at or below 25% of the federal poverty level. Older adults struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss. For seniors above the poverty level, it can take just one major adverse life event to negatively impact their ability to remain housed.
In April 2020, Charlie filed for Section 8 and low-income senior housing with the County of San Bernardino. “It wasn’t easy to file for low-income housing and food stamps,” Charlie said. “I was used to working hard to pay my way.”
In June, just a few months after filing with the county, Charlie received a call from his case manager at the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino, letting him know about a new community for seniors in Rancho Cucamonga. When the case manager told him the estimated rent, Charlie thought to himself, “I can do that.” Charlie applied to Day Creek Senior Villas when the waitlist opened in July, but he knew that his chances of being chosen for one of the 140 available units were slim.
In August, Charlie received the call that would change his life. On the phone, the Community Manager at Day Creek Senior Villas told Charlie that his name had been drawn in the lottery, and as long as he had all of the appropriate paperwork, he would have the opportunity to move into the new community in October.
“I didn’t really believe it,” Charlie said. “I didn’t believe it until I got my keys on move-in day.”
In October, Charlie became one of more than one hundred seniors who moved into Day Creek Senior Villas. Charlie was in shock when he first saw his beautiful apartment and the amazing view from his patio. He kept having to remind himself, “I’m really here. This really happened.” He could not stop looking around at his new neighbors who also were moving in, thinking that they must be experiencing the same emotions.
Within two weeks, Charlie felt at home in his new community. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. He had never experienced a housing community like this before. “The biggest difference is that they care,” Charlie said. “The community manager, the services coordinator, and the resident services technician – they all care. Their actions speak louder than words, and what they do for us every day is a new feeling for me.”
Charlie has taken advantage of all that his new community has to offer. Because of its convenient location to community amenities, Charlie enjoys being able to walk across the street to buy groceries, pick up prescriptions, or purchase a meal. He hangs out with his neighbors and friends in the spacious community center, participating in activities and other community events. He stays active, visiting the onsite fitness center and taking walks on the Pacific Electric Inland Empire Trail adjacent to the community. And of course, Charlie loves the views from his apartment of the San Gabriel Mountains.
“You know, the decision to stay somewhere doesn’t usually come easy, but I want to stay here for the rest of my life,” Charlie said. “I plan is to live another 31 years so that I can celebrate my 100th birthday at Day Creek Senior Villas.”
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About National Community Renaissance (National CORE)
National Community Renaissance based in Southern California, is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. National CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior, and market-rate units in California, Texas, and Florida. National CORE’s strength is in its ability to offer partners an array of in-house capabilities that navigates the complexities of planning, developing, building, managing, and providing supportive services. For more information on National CORE, please visit www.nationalcore.org.
About Hope through Housing Foundation
Hope through Housing believes that affordable housing can be a platform for transformational change at the individual and neighborhood level. For more than 20 years, the Hope through Housing Foundation has provided more than 2 million hours of transformational social services helping children and teens achieve success, improving families’ financial well-being, and promoting seniors’ health and wellness. For more information on Hope through Housing, please visit www.hthf.org.