February 2019 Newsletter

From the CEO

We Love Our Residents!

Steve PonTell, President and CEO
National Community Renaissance

National CORE is committed to so much more than just housing. Each day, we aspire to transform lives and communities. This work is truly about our residents and working to make their lives more fruitful, more fulfilling, and to empower each child, parent and senior to achieve more than they thought possible. And we couldn’t make that happen without our partnership with the Hope through Housing Foundation. Hope through Housing and its incredible team help residents identify and reach for personal goals, provide youth with the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond and to empower seniors to live healthy, independent lives in their own homes. In honor of this month’s spirit, we want to say that we LOVE our residents. They are the reason we build beautiful apartment homes and invest in building bright futures for kids. Thank you to the Hope through Housing Foundation and all our partners who allow us to show LOVE to our residents throughout the year!.

Neighborhood Revitalization Created Opportunities for a Struggling Family

Martha and Juan Lopez

Martha Lopez and her family lived in Vista Del Sol and saw the transformation that took place when National CORE acquired the property almost 20 years ago. At the time, Martha Lopez and her family had exhausted the goodwill of family members who had allowed them to stay in their homes, and they needed to find a place of their own. Although at the time, the “Q” Avenue neighborhood in National City was well-known as a haven for all kinds of criminal activity, it was affordable and available, and Martha and her family moved into their own apartment. Martha’s husband’s job was very low-paying, and so they learned to live with many difficult circumstances. The building was in poor repair and over-run with roaches.

Shortly after Martha and her family moved in, National CORE, in partnership with the National City Redevelopment Agency, acquired the various apartment buildings lining the “Q” Avenue cul-de-sac and began improving the apartment units and managing the entire community.

One of Martha’s favorite memories from that time was the “clean-up day” National CORE sponsored as they began to improve the neighborhood. She says it “lifted her spirit to see so many people come out to help with the clean-up, and she met many caring people who wanted to help others. Shortly after the acquisition, Martha was hired by National CORE as a “clerk” for the apartment community and to hold keys to provide access to the community in case of an emergency, positioning her as an important link to the other residents and the new management company. Martha was quickly promoted to a Leasing Agent, then Assistant Manager at Vista del Sol. Her hard work and positive attitude paid off as she was promoted to community manager.

Her son, Juan, got involved in the new after-school program onsite and found many new friends and fun and positive activities to join in. Just a few years later, Juan would, himself, join the National CORE team. Today, Juan and Martha are both valued employees of National CORE. Martha is happy to continue to demonstrate real caring to her community, and she looks forward to the challenges and successes of the future. She has seen in a very personal way the positive impact of the work National CORE does.

Martha says that living in Vista del Sol allowed her to raise her children in a safe neighborhood and to learn and grow in a profession. Today, Martha is a Senior Community Manager and oversees two National CORE apartment communities, Vista del Sol and nearby Parkside Apartments.

Affordable Housing the National CORE Way

Solar Panels at Valencia Vista in San Bernardino, California

National Community Renaissance is an industry leader in identifying ways to develop, build, operate and maintain service-enhanced affordable housing. For more than 25 years, National CORE has made its mark in Southern California and beyond, improving the lives of thousands of working-class families and individuals in the process. One of the keys to success is understanding the marketplace and staying ahead of the curve.

Since Assembly Bill 32 was signed into law in 2007, California has been charting a course toward Zero Net Energy (a term where all energy associated with a building is generated on-site through a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems) for all residential buildings three stories or fewer. On Jan. 1, 2020, the 2019 California Energy Code will go into effect, and the era of Zero Net Energy building arrives. Since the 2016 Energy Code went into effect (in 2017), the National CORE construction team has been working to identify the most cost-effective path to high-efficiency. While many design and construction teams have fallen back to the prescriptive requirements of the Energy Code, the National CORE team has identified an approach that allows it to achieve high-performance goals while keeping costs under control. The National CORE approach includes:

  1. A high-performance building envelope installed in a way that meets the State’s Quality Insulation Installation standards (3rd party verified).
  2. High-performance HVAC systems, sized to meet the calculated heating and cooling loads (which eliminates oversizing and inefficiency).
  3. High-performance hot water heating that allows for the delivery of hot water in 15 seconds or fewer (either through central boiler systems or individual heat pump water heaters).
  4. Use of LED lighting throughout, including smart lighting controls in common areas that allow for automatic selective dimming and occupancy sensors to reduce lighting loads.
  5. Use of ultra-conserving water fixtures and drought-tolerant landscape throughout.
  6. Use of renewable energy systems (both photovoltaic systems and solar thermal systems for heating hot water) to meet common area loads, lowering operating expenses for the property management teams.

In the coming months, the State of California will shift all consumers to “Time of Use” utility rates, which will dramatically increase the cost of energy during peak evening periods (after the sun has gone down and after photovoltaic systems have stopped producing energy). In anticipation of this, the National CORE team has begun analysis and discussions to design, purchase and install battery storage systems that will work in concert with photovoltaic systems, storing energy from the sun in batteries on site, drawing from these batteries for peak energy periods).  This will save thousands and potentially tens of thousands of dollars per year at each property.

To future proof our buildings and to allow our residents to participate in the electric vehicle revolution that will continue to shape transportation for all Americans, the National CORE team is planning electrical service to allow for future installation of electric vehicle charging stations for all residential units. Working hand in hand with utility partners and other state resources, the National CORE construction team has an eye on the horizon in a changing landscape, leading the way to a cleaner energy tomorrow for ourselves and the entire National CORE resident family. By continuing to keep an eye on cost containment, National CORE is showing the market (and the world) what is possible. If we can do this, everyone else can!

Extending the Future of National CORE Properties through Continued Investment

National CORE is in the process of extending the economic and physical life of five of its affordable housing communities in San Diego County which were acquired and rehabbed almost 20 years ago.  In the first quarter of 2019, National CORE will complete rehab and recapitalization of 528 units at the following communities:

  • Vista Del Sol, National City, 132 units
  • Paseo Del Oro, San Marcos, 120 units
  • Parkside, San Diego, 40 Units
  • Cobblestone, Escondido,44 Units
  • Sierra Vista, San Marcos, 192 Units

The rehab addresses health and safety, accessibility, deferred maintenance, and energy efficiency. Interior work included replacing countertops and cabinetry in units, replacing flooring, replacing windows, installing new refrigerators, ranges, range hoods, and dishwashers.

Exterior work included reroofing and painting the exterior buildings.  Site improvements included addressing parking lot deferred maintenance, site fencing, outdoor exercise equipment and replacing and upgrading building systems as necessary. In addition to the rehab of the residential units, community centers were refreshed and re-configured to support ongoing property management and resident services.

The recapitalization of these five properties is composed of new 4% tax credit and tax-exempt bond financing (aka re-syndication); assumption of existing public agency debt; and the pay-off of existing hard debt financing.

The recapitalization of these San Diego properties is part of National CORE’s portfolio-wide efforts to re-invest in its existing properties with the goals of improving quality of life and providing economic mobility opportunities for its residents

Patricia Whitaker Named Vice President of Asset Management

Patricia Whitaker

Patricia Whitaker joins the leadership team at National Community Renaissance (National CORE) as Vice President of Asset Management, bringing more than 30 years of experience in the affordable housing industry as a leader and advocate for low- to moderate-income families.

Whitaker has spent the past nine years as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Innovative Housing Opportunities, Inc. (IHO) where she increased corporate real estate ownership 300 percent within five years, crediting her staffing strategy for enhancing IHO’s capacity and increasing productivity.

In addition to her work at IHO, Whitaker served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Abode Communities in Los Angeles and Executive Director of the Community Development Agency in Santa Ana. Whitaker notes that over the years she has had great success in rapid and successful portfolio growth, sustainable financial strength and partnership development.

“Pat brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise that are in alignment with National CORE’s commitment to build and manage high-quality affordable housing that benefits our stakeholders and the communities we serve,” commented Steve PonTell, CEO/President of National CORE. “As Vice President of Asset Management, Pat will be responsible for managing a portfolio of nearly 90 properties in California, Texas, and Florida and developing approaches and implementing policies that preserve affordability into perpetuity.”

National CORE has a long history of enhancing neighborhood stability through long-term management and maintenance and providing access to much needed social services, creating healthy communities that thrive and prosper for many generations to come.

“I look forward to working with the team at National CORE to enhance and sustain the value of National CORE’s properties to investors and the cities where they reside,” Whitaker said.  “I am honored to join a company that truly cares about building a better future for the communities they serve and the residents who live there.”

Valentine’s Day at National CORE

Affordable Housing in the News

“Funding Housing Sustainability: The Promise of California Cap and Trade”
(How Housing Matters)

“California Sues City Over Lack of Affordable Housing”
(The Wall Street Journal)

“Hospital System Helps Housing Partners Unlock Capital”
(Shelterforce Weekly)

“Gregory Bradbard: Prescription for Good Health Begins with Housing”
(The Press-Enterprise)

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