To the disappointment of city officials, only 21 Montebello residents have been selected in a lottery tenants for the 127 available apartments in Casa La Merced, a new, federally subsidized senior housing project near the intersection of Montebello and Whittier boulevards.
Earlier in the month, federal officials rejected a City Council appeal that would have given local residents some priority in the selection process. City officials argued that local applicants should be favored because the council contributed about $1 million toward the $8-million construction effort. But officials with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development--which gave developers the bulk of their construction money and also agreed to subsidize rents--decided that such a preference would amount to discrimination.
City Administrator Joseph M. Goeden said that Mayor William M. Molinari wrote a letter of protest to President Reagan and HUD officials, but decided not to stand in the way of developers.
However, more city residents may still get a chance to live in the project because managing agent Clive Graham said that many of the lottery winners have either backed out or failed to qualify as economically needy. After the first 127 prospective residents were chosen, the developers picked a second 127 to stand next in line. Of that group, 26 are Montebello residents, Goeden said, citing figures from an unofficial count conducted by a local newspaper.