Clairemont Apartment Building Opens for Formerly Homeless Seniors
by Ray Huard
San Diego Business Journal
March 31, 2022
SAN DIEGO - A once-vacant Clairemont office building has been replaced with an apartment complex that offers permanent housing to 52 seniors who had been sleeping on the streets or in their cars.
Wakeland Housing and Development Corp., based in downtown San Diego, in mid-March opened the $27 million Ivy Senior Apartments on Mount Alifan Drive.
The three-story Ivy has 52 studio apartments for people 55 and older who had been homeless as well as one manager’s apartment.
“This is what solves homelessness, permanent supportive housing solves homelessness,” Mayor Todd Gloria said at a recent ribbon cutting for Ivy.
“Time was, that homelessness was just a downtown issue. Not anymore. It’s in every neighborhood in this city and every neighborhood has to be part of the solution,” Gloria said. “This project is beautiful, it adds to the community.”
According to San Diego County figures, one of every four homeless adults is 55 or older.
Built on a 1.1-acre site, the 39,487-square-foot Ivy was designed for older tenants with chronic medical conditions, said Rebecca Louie, COO of Wakeland Housing.
“They’re offered comprehensive social and medical services and housing stability,” Louie said. “My goal always is for them to come in, take a shower and sleep in a clean bed in a room with a locking door and really just get the rest they’ve been denied for so long.”
BNIM was the architect and Allgire General Contractors was the general contractor.
Ivy was designed to achieve GreenPoint Gold certification for its sustainability with features that include photovoltaic panels to provide the building’s electricity, window glazing to reduce heating and cooling loss, water conserving appliances, drought tolerant landscaping, and an on-site storm water bio-retention and filtration system.
“The apartments all have good windows and natural light. We know that’s very important for a lot of seniors. It helps stave off depression,” Louie said.
Resident services will be provided by People Assisting the Homeless, St. Paul’s Senior Services/PATH Program, and the county Behavioral Health Services. ConAm Management, Inc. will manage the property.
“Our goal is to bring people in, put them in homes, really keep them there and help them thrive and get back into the community,” Louie said.
Community amenities include a 3,100-square-foot central courtyard, a 300-square-foot area set aside for pets and smokers, a multi-purpose room, a nurse’s station and an on-site laundry room.
The project also is adjacent to a supermarket.
The apartments are designated for low-income households with annual incomes up to 50% of the area median income, which equates to about $26,000 to $42,500 or less.
Residents will pay about 30% of the rent while the San Diego Housing Commission will provide rent vouchers for those whose income is so low that they can’t afford the rent.
“Most of them are probably getting Social Security of maybe $900 a month,” Louie said.
A Model to Replicate
Ivy took four years to build and initially faced some community opposition.
To overcome community concern, Louie said Wakeland brought community representatives to visit a similar project the company built between City Heights and Talmadge, Talmadge Gateway that opened in 2017 with 60 affordable apartments.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher urged those who supported Ivy “to show up and speak for other housing projects.”
“We need everyone to come together,” Fletcher said at the ribbon cutting for the project. “This is the model. Now we just need more of it.”
Wakeland Housing and Development Corp.
CEO: Ken Sauder
Headquarters: downtown San Diego
Business: affordable housing developer
Annual revenue: $5.5 million
Notable: Wakeland Housing has built 7,500 affordable apartments in 53 projects throughout California.