A multi-million dollar public-private partnership to build affordable housing for seniors in Bell Gardens was unveiled last week during a ribbon cutting ceremony, making it the third such housing project to be opened in the city.
Terra Bella, located at 5720 Clara Street, will provide housing to 65 low-income seniors, according to Bell Gardens officials.
“I am proud to know that we can provide safe, affordable housing to our senior residents,” said Bell Gardens Mayor Pedro Aceituno, noting that the housing was built during “”tough economic times.”
The development was built by Abode Communities at a cost of $23 million and financed through a combination of federal, state, private and local funding. The land was a vacant lot before being acquired by Abode, which started construction on the project in 2011.
“Terra Bella is a prime example of what can be accomplished through a wide-range of public-private partnerships,” said Robin Hughes, President and CEO of Abode Communities. “The support from our partners, combined with Project-Based Section 8 rental subsidies, ensures deep and permanent affordability to seniors who live on a fixed income.”
Bell Gardens loaned Abode $2.6 million from its now-defunct redevelopment agency, according to the city’s director of community development, Abel Avalos. The city expects the loan, plus interest. to be repaid in 30 years, Avalos said.
Since the project is affordable housing, Avalos said added revenue to the city in property taxes would be minimal.
Only seniors, 62-years-old or older who meet low-income based requirements set by the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, which is estimated as 30-60 percent of the area’s median income, are eligible to live at the facility.
“It’s a much needed project,” Avalos said. “Overall, Bell Gardens is considered a younger community but there are quite enough seniors.”
The 60,049 square-foot residential project has 62, one-bedroom apartments and three two-bedroom apartments. The California mission-inspired property also features a 2,235 square-ft. common area that includes a resource center, common kitchen and on-site laundry room. It does not meet the standards to qualify as an assistance living facility.
Apartment units have been completely leased out, and there is a waiting list. Twenty-seven percent of the tenants were already Bell Gardens residents, according to Avalos.
“That’s a pretty good number considering [could] was out of our control,” he said.
There are currently about 3.394 seniors living in Bell Gardens, approximately 8 percent of the city’s population, Avalos said.
“Senior housing is really one of the few ways to provide a benefit to our residents because they are one of the most vulnerable residents on a fixed income,” said Avalos. “We probably would not have been able to assist as many people in another project as we could with this property.”