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Glendale Urged to Aid in Building 156 Apartments a Year for Elderly

November 10, 1988|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

Glendale housing officials this week recommended that the city cooperate with the construction industry to build 156 apartments a year in the next decade for elderly Glendale residents living on low incomes.

In a report presented Tuesday, Madalyn Blake, director of Community Development and Housing, proposed the use of city funds to provide incentives for the development of affordable senior citizen housing.

Blake estimated that more than 1,400 elderly residents in Glendale need such housing now, and predicted that number would increase to 1,560 by 1998.

Blake and planning consultant Marlene Roth presented reports Tuesday to a city task force for the elderly and members of the City Council.

They outlined several options, including assistance to developers in purchasing land and obtaining financing. The reports also recommended rehabilitation programs and increased rental assistance.

The city would provide funds for the projects with an estimated $16 million in property taxes to be drawn from redevelopment projects.

Angus G. S. MacLeod, chairman of the Greater Glendale Council on Aging said after the nearly 2-hour meeting that he feels confident the city will begin to help alleviate the city's severe shortage of low-cost housing for the elderly.

"I have a very strong feeling that there definitely is going to be some action taken in the not too distant future," he said.

MacLeod is one of 13 members of the Mayor's Task Force on Housing for the Elderly, established in June to address the housing needs of Glendale residents who are 62 years and older. Other members include Roth, Mayor Carl W. Raggio, Glendale's planning director and two members of the city Community Development and Housing Department.

During Tuesday's presentation, Blake said that at least 1,411 elderly city residents are presently on waiting lists for affordable housing.

Most of these residents, Blake said, are spending about 50% of their income on rent.

"Furthermore, it was found that due to development changes in the community, low-income seniors are being evicted and are being forced to move from places they have lived for many years," she wrote in the report. "Not only is the move traumatic, they often don't have adequate resources."

The problem could be relieved somewhat if more apartments that rent for between $250 to $350 become available, she said.

For whatever housing program it establishes, Glendale has an automatic source of funds.

State redevelopment laws require that cities spend 20% of the property tax they collect from redevelopment projects on low-income housing. The cities must start setting the money aside beginning in January, Redevelopment Director Susan Schick said. Glendale's housing fund is expected to grow to more than $16 million by 1996.

Blake said she expected that about one third of those funds will go to housing for the elderly and the rest would be for family housing.

Presently in Glendale, there are only 575 federally subsidized apartments for people 62 years and older, city officials said. Construction of another 75 federally subsidized units was recently approved for a vacant city-owned lot on the northeast corner of Monterey Road and Louise Street.

Waiting lists for many of the units are long. For instance, applicants who sign up for housing at the 97-unit Park Paseo apartment complex on south Isabel Street can expect to wait 10 to 15 years for an opening, said officials who operate the program.

Blake's survey showed that financial difficulties extend to some elderly homeowners, as well. Many cannot afford on their low incomes to maintain their homes to city specifications, she said.

Roth, a private consultant who represents developers, outlined four options for the development of a 40-unit building that would provide from 12 to 40 low-rent units, depending on the type of city assistance.

In one plan, by providing $1 million to purchase the land, the city could guarantee that all 40 units would be rented at $400 per month or less.

A less-ambitious option would require the city to loan the developer about $1.3 million at low interest and would provide 25 low-rent units. The remaining 15 would be rented from $550 to $725 a month.

By working with a nonprofit sponsor as developer, Roth said, the city could also provide 25 low-rent units at no cost to itself.

In the final option, only 12 units would be fixed at low rent, also at no cost to the city, by the use of density bonuses to the developer.

Another less-favorable option was for the city to expand existing federal rental assistance programs by dipping into the interest earned on redevelopment funds.

Raggio said he considered that idea a mere "stop-gap" measure that would not address the long-term housing needs of the elderly.

"I'm more in favor of permanent residences," he said after the meeting. "It's smarter than going on a temporary basis."

MacLeod agreed: "You've got to have investment in long-term housing that is developed exclusively for seniors," he said. City officials are also considering a plan, proposed by Councilman Larry Zarian, in which construction industry leaders would donate materials at cost and provide their services at a discount to build such housing on city-purchased land.

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