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Lucky Elderly Mark Birthday of Subsidized Apartments

September 14, 1989|SANTIAGO O'DONNELL | Times Staff Writer

Ten years ago, Casa de la Paloma became Glendale's first subsidized housing project. The nine-story apartment complex, with its manicured front lawn, red facade and colorful interiors, opened its doors Aug. 20, 1979, to about 200 low-income senior citizens.

Many of the original residents were on hand Monday to celebrate the birthday and show off their home--some of the most sought-after living quarters in the city.

"I was just one of the lucky ones," said Blanche Combs, 87, who moved into the building when it opened. Casa de la Paloma on Kenwood Street is the largest of the two federally subsidized apartment buildings in the city, where senior citizens accounted for 22% of the population in the last census.

Based on Income

Southern California Presbyterian Homes developed the 167-unit apartment complex and operates it under a contract with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tenants are required to contribute 30% of their income toward rent.

Thousands of Glendale senior citizens, most of them on fixed incomes, have been on waiting lists for subsidized housing units for years. Glendale Community Development Director Madlyn Blake estimated that there are 4,000 elderly Glendale residents living below the poverty level. There are more than 2,000 names on the waiting list for Casa de la Paloma and the 97-unit Park Paseo, the other federally subsidized complex, she said.

Cathie Gee, 86, another 10-year Casa de la Paloma resident, said she applied for subsidized housing in 1972. A Glendale resident since 1927, Gee said she had to leave her former apartment because "the rent was going up so much."

Casa de la Paloma has hardly put a dent in the needs of the low-income elderly in Glendale, but to the select group living there, it has made a world of difference.

Gather for Party

Dozens of residents, friends and relatives gathered for the anniversary party in a reception area brightened by orange walls and by sunlight pouring from windows. They talked about everything from weekend bingo to their health and the going wages for part-time jobs.

A white linen tablecloth covered the long serving table. Dorothy Nelson, 84, served tea from a silver urn. Ann Mitchelltree, 68, ladled fruit punch out of an ornate glass bowl. A tray of pound cake and a cup of peanuts complemented the refreshments. The paper napkins were inscribed, "Casa de la Paloma, 10th Anniversary," with a big number 10 taking up most of the printed surface.

For Sadie Howard, 88, the party was a homecoming. Confined to a wheelchair and no longer able to care for herself without help, she had to move out of Casa de la Paloma and into a retirement home in April.

"It's so nice to be back," she said. "I have loads of friends here."

In one corner, the Royal Vista Terrace "gang," as they call themselves--a group of residents from a nearby non-subsidized senior citizen housing complex--admired the surroundings.

"This building is so big," said Betta Hart, 70, who was visiting for the first time. "It has so much to offer. . . ."

The proud hosts, all sporting "Casa de la Paloma charter member" silk badges, could hardly stop smiling as the visitors reminded them of their good luck.

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