LocationAlhambra , CA
Alhambra City Council unanimously approved construction this week of the Mariposa Housing project, a joint venture between American Family Housing and National Community Renaissance, to provide long-term housing and management for the city’s vulnerable and at-risk populations.
The housing site is between First and Second streets, south of Main Street on a public parking lot. Originally proposed to be five stories, feedback from the community to replace the parking now makes the project seven stories.
Residents will be chosen based on their income-level and household size in a selection process that has not been worked out but must be approved by the City Council. One on-site manager’s unit will be reserved, and 30 units will be one-bedroom and 19 units will be two-bedroom.
The units will be divided equally among very-low- and low-income housing.
The project will cost nearly $28 million; the city’s contributions are less than $6 million. It is scheduled for occupancy in July 2023.
American Family Housing is a nonprofit based in Midway, Calif., with projects in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. National Community Renaissance, also known as National CORE, provides long term management, maintenance and social services for more than 27,000 residents in 10,000 affordable, senior living and assisted living units at facilities in California, Florida and Texas.
During the discussion, Mayor David Mejia said each part of the city has to help contribute to building affordable housing, referring to Council member Katherine Lee’s comment at a previous meeting that the area on Main Street is a more affluent area and therefore not be a good place for lower-income residents. “It has to be a community effort,” Mejia said.
Council member Ross Maza asked if American Family Housing would consider keeping the building affordable in perpetuity, instead of the 55 years required by state law.
American Family Housing chief executive Milo Peinemann said, “I think we have no objections whatsoever, it’s very much our shared purpose.”
Public comment encouraged council to approve the project and was supportive of affordable housing.
At the same meeting, the City Council resumed discussion of Lee’s call for a moratorium on all buildings above 25 feet on East Main Street.
After nearly two hours of public comment, Lee said it was her “desire to have a win-win situation,” but that her heart is telling her to “be a voice for the residents” and urged to the council to adopt the ordinance. The East Main Street corridor is already getting its own focus in the city’s current rezoning efforts.
The business community and affordable housing proponents are against this moratorium. Local homeowners wanting to preserve their current neighborhood – many from Vega Street and Lindaraxa Park – and those who want to develop a cohesive “old town” support it.
“We’re two sides fighting now, and it’s like one side now is asking for room on the higher side of the deck of a sinking ship,” said Eric Sunada, an affordable housing advocate, also referring to Lee’s comment about affordable housing on Main Street.
Lee denied making any statement that affordable housing does not belong on East Main last month. In that meeting, asking why East Main Street was in the discussion around housing, she said, “That area is one of the most expensive areas, residential-wise. If we’re looking at affordable housing, it’s… rather contradicting.”
Council member Jeff Maloney suggested meetings with stakeholders in the community and take up the issue again at a future date. Maza and Mejia agreed, and Maloney volunteered to spearhead the efforts for outreach to the community.
In other business, the council requested proposals for another affordable housing project for a site on the north side of Main Street on Chapel Avenue.