There wasn't a million-dollar prize at stake in the lottery held recently at the Glendale Presbyterian Church.
But that didn't seem to matter to the people who packed the church gymnasium and hoped to hear their names and numbers called.
They were among more than 1,700 low-income elderly and disabled people waiting for a chance to live in the federally subsidized Park Paseo housing project under construction at 123 S. Isabel St. The lottery ticket holders faced long odds against residing in Park Paseo, a 98-unit building scheduled to open in June.
The lottery was held to draw a pool of 250 applicants who will undergo eligibility interviews beginning April 15. The interview process is expected to weed out a number of applicants who don't meet age, health and income requirements.
Jumps and Shouts
But, judging from the responses of some of the applicants whose numbers came up, it seemed as though winning a chance to be interviewed was worth a million dollars. Some couldn't contain themselves when they heard their names and jumped out of their chairs shouting, "I got it," and "Right here," while they waved their applications in the air.
Others broke out in silent tears or broad smiles, like the one Lupe Walker of Burbank wore as she stood in line to sign up for her interview. Walker, 68, said she lives alone on a monthly Social Security check.
"I kept praying. I said, 'Lord, if this is where you're going to lead me, lead me. If not, I'll go home,' " she recalled saying to herself before the lottery began. "Sure enough, they called my name."
Those applicants who didn't make the initial pool Friday had their names placed in a separate drawing Monday at Glendale City Hall and were put on a waiting list in the order that their names were drawn.
Many of the applicants said they have been trying for years to get into a senior citizen-disabled housing project funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Before Friday's drawing began, an apology was given to the more than 500 people who sat clutching applications stamped with lottery ticket numbers.
"We simply couldn't build fast enough to supply the demand," said Art Harker, a representative of Southern California Presbyterian Homes, the nonprofit organization that has contracted with HUD to manage Park Paseo. "We wish we had 1,700 units."
So did those people who walked away less than an hour later without hearing their names called. "Well, I'm just unlucky, I guess," shrugged a 69-year-old Glendale woman, who asked not to be identified. The woman said she lives by herself in a small apartment where the $300 a month she pays eats up most of her $405 monthly Social Security check.
Not Much Hope
She was there with a friend, a 64-year-old Burbank woman, who also asked to remain unidentified. The two women said they are in similar financial straits and are already on the waiting list for Casa de la Paloma, the only other HUD-financed senior citizens housing project in Glendale. It opened in 1981. They didn't hold out much hope of working their way to the top of the housing lists at Casa de la Paloma or Park Paseo in the near future.
"We'll be dead by that time," the Burbank woman said.
More than 3,000 people are waiting for a vacancy in one of the 167 apartments at Casa de la Paloma on Kenwood Street, according to Presbyterian Homes, which also manages that housing project. Three other HUD-financed housing projects in Long Beach, Duarte and Upland are operated by Presbyterian Homes, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian church.
Park Paseo will be smaller than Casa de la Paloma, with its one-bedroom and bachelor apartments expected to house about 115 residents. Ten of the apartments will be set aside for wheelchair-confined residents. Construction on the building began in October after two years of negotiations between HUD and Presbyterian Homes on a $6.2-million HUD loan that helped pay for land acquisition and construction costs.
The rest of the loan will be used to subsidize the low-income residents, whose rent will be 30% of their household income. Under HUD rules, annual income must not exceed $10,100 for a single person or $11,500 for married couples. Park Paseo residents must be 62 years or older--or no younger than 18 if disabled--and must be able to take care of themselves, since no medical care is provided. All residents will be required to pay their monthly utility bills.
Most Applicants From Glendale
Applications for Park Paseo came from throughout the greater Los Angeles area and from as far away as St. Louis, but the majority were from people in the Glendale area, said Robert Carter, manager of HUD administration for Presbyterian Homes.
Because the project is federally funded, no priority is given to residents of Glendale, Carter said. However, about 50% to 60% of those picked for eligibility interviews are from the Glendale area, he said.