Glendale city officials decided this week to move ahead on a 3-year-old proposal to help build low- and moderate-income housing for the elderly in the downtown redevelopment area.
The Glendale City Council, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, voted to subsidize a proposal by Soroptimist International of Glendale to build a 50-unit apartment complex. The council tentatively agreed to spend at least $550,000 in property taxes coming from the redevelopment area and to donate land valued at $975,000.
If the project wins final approval, it would be the first to use city funds for low-cost housing. Other such projects have been built with federal funds given to the city.
In deciding to help the project, the City Council partially reversed an action it took after a public hearing last month. At that time, the council initiated proceedings to allow it to wait for 10 years before setting aside any redevelopment project money for housing. Although the council still plans to continue with the deferment proceedings, it plans to take enough "tax increment" funds now to help build the apartments.
Tax increment funds are the increased property taxes generated by the higher values that occur when an area is redeveloped. Instead of being collected by the county for distribution to various local government agencies, however, the funds are kept within the redevelopment zone to be spent on more improvements there.
Other Funds Possible
Susan Shick, deputy redevelopment director, said the city could also use $290,000 in federal block grant funds for the project, bringing the cash for the housing project to $840,000, the amount the Soroptimists say they need to keep rents low. However, if federal funds are used, Shick said, the building will be open to all qualified elderly, not just Glendale residents.
The demand for the apartments is expected to far exceed the supply. Several council members said that, since the city proposes to invest a substantial amount in the project, residency should be limited to Glendale residents. Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg suggested that city capital-improvement funds be added to the subsidy rather than federal money.
Construction costs of the proposed three-story building at Louise Street and Monterey Road are estimated to be almost $1.5 million. The Soroptimists plan to contribute about $978,0000 to build and operate the complex. The organization wants to borrow $890,000 of that amount. The loan would be paid off from rents, private donations and other sources.
Age, Income Qualifications
The complex would be open to people 62 and older who have annual household incomes of less than $16,000. Rents would vary based on tenants' ability to pay. Those with an annual household income of between $9,500 and $12,000, for example, would be expected to pay rents of $310 to $350 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.
About 75 people would live in the 50 apartments, said Marlene Roth, a planning consultant and spokeswoman for the Soroptimists, a professional women's club.
Roth said the Soroptimists had tried in vain for two years to get funds for the project from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last month, city officials started looking for other sources of money. City officials said they prefer to give a single, lump sum toward construction rather than to subsidize rents annually.
Shick said more than 1,000 of the city's older residents are on a waiting list for city-subsidized housing. About 3,000 more are eligible. She said that setting aside city funds for the project "makes sense."
Nonprofit organizations sponsor three other housing projects for the elderly--Casa de la Paloma, Maple Park and Park Paseo--all partly funded with federal money. A city study showed that 313 residents live in the three complexes. Shick said about 15% of the apartments in those projects are rented by people who did not live in Glendale before moving to one of the complexes.
Mayor Larry Zarian is among those who said the Soroptimist project should be limited to residents of Glendale. Zarian also suggested that a Glendale resident be defined as anyone who has lived in the city for at least five years. Council members asked the city attorney's office to explore methods of limiting occupancy of the project to Glendale residents and to define "citizenship."
In approving the proposal, the council authorized the redevelopment agency to seek a developer and construction loans. Shick said she expects to determine whether the project is feasible within three months.
City officials said construction could be completed within a year after final council approval.