Development in Irvine a Neighborhood With ‘HEART’
Recognizing ingenuity in the development, construction and marketing of affordable workforce housing, NAHB honored five communities with its Innovation in Workforce Housing Awards at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. in January. In an effort to bring attention to outstanding examples of workforce housing, Nation’s Building News is showcasing the winners of the award in a series of articles. The second development in this series is Montecito Vista in Irvine, Calif.
Applications for the 2006 awards are available and the deadline is Oct. 27. For the award guidelines and an entry form, click here.
Developed by Jamboree Housing Corporation, Montecito Vista is a multifamily rental development consisting of 84 two-bedroom, one-bath apartments starting at $510 per month and 78 three-bedroom, two-bath apartments starting at $589 per month. These units will be rented to households earning between 30% and 50% of area median income.
Laura Archuleta, president of Jamboree Housing Corp., accepted the award.
The development includes a community building, a small library, a computer learning center, as well as outdoor barbecues, on-grade parking and a swimming pool. Jamboree Housing Corp. also offers resident assistance programs, such as child safety courses, tutoring programs, computer learning classes and programs to help residents prepare for career opportunities in the job-rich Irvine area.
“Basic shelter is only the beginning when it comes to improving the lives of lower-income residents of affordable housing communities,” Archuleta said. “JHC was one of the first nonprofit housing providers to recognize, and integrate into its program, the vital link between housing and on-site resident services. So strong is this belief that in 2004 Housing with HEART (Helping Educate Activate and Respond Together) became its own 501(c)(3) organization as an affiliate of JHC.”
“Housing with HEART fills a critical gap by providing essential services, tools and other resources to help our residents become more self-sufficient, and to help make JHC communities better places to live,” Archuleta added. “Our goal is to transform our developments into neighborhoods, by creating environments that foster communication, resident involvement and empowerment. Housing with HEART offers an innovative, comprehensive approach to developing a long-term resident services program tailored to each of its communities. The goal is to respond to the current and future needs of residents to improve their lives, break the poverty cycle and move them toward non-subsidized self-sufficiency.”
Montecito Vista is adjacent to a new community park and a new technology center. It is close to hiking and bike trails and is just two blocks from The Market Place, a regional retail center with stores, restaurants and movie theaters that provide amenities and job opportunities. Montecito Vista is also adjacent the new Arnold O. Beckman High School, a $94 million state-of-the-art facility that is the first new high school built in the Irvine Unified School District in 40 years.
From the initial phases of development through the implementation of property management, partnerships play a crucial role to the viability of a project, Archuleta said. “As a nonprofit housing developer, JHC is able to leverage a nexus of public and private funds through partnerships with local government, private developers, investors and the surrounding community. Public-private collaboration with partners like JHC is why Irvine boasts the greatest ratio of affordable housing units in Orange County,” she said.
“Irvine’s Housing Element indicates the city is a jobs-rich community with an estimated 3.4 jobs per housing unit,” Archuleta said. “The average price of a home is $693,500, but the fastest-growing California industries average annual salaries of only $17,000-$44,000. That means thousands of residents from other communities commute here for work, creating traffic congestion, air quality problems and other issues."
“Incorporating rental workforce housing into its major employment centers makes sense for the city and families and is key to success for Irvine’s overall housing plan,” she added. “It provides workforce families with the opportunity to live where they work. This results in shorter commutes, access to better schools and more time with their families.”
Archuleta offers this advice for those interested in providing workforce housing:
- Know your community and its needs. Allocate staff and financial resources to research the opportunities and obstacles — the people, policies and perceptions — to developing more affordable workforce housing. Knowing the facts helps position you and your cause as an ally for balanced economic development in your neighborhood — and that’s good for everyone.
- Build strategic and creative partnerships and do what you do best. Successful affordable workforce housing requires the cooperation of many organizations and entities — both for-profit and nonprofit. Through collaboration, affordable workforce housing is not only possible, it can exceed expectations by impacting the overall health of a community. The positive impact we can have on families, education and the economy addresses some of the biggest challenges we face as a society.
- Continually work to change NIMBY-ism (Not-in-My-Back-Yard). Go to city council meetings. Proactively address the issues of neighboring residents. Educate those with opposing views about the positives of more affordable housing. Put faces to the residents — the firemen, schoolteachers and store clerks who live and work in the community.
- Plan, design and build affordable workforce housing with the same high-quality standards, finishes and materials as market-rate communities. Do everything with an excellence that parallels your passion for a safe, decent place for everyone.
For more information, e-mail Blake Smith at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8583.