Irvine, CA – What do a 52-year-old Navy veteran, a single mother of two who was once a domestic violence victim, a former banker and business owner, a 27-year-old student who struggles to finish college since emancipation from the foster care system at age 18, and a woman with a degenerative eye disease who was for years estranged from her young children all have in common? They are one of the 5,700 chronically homeless individuals living with mental illness in Orange County, California.
Until today. Now they are neighbors at Jamboree Housing Corporation’s Diamond Apartment Homes. “Reflected in every aspect – from compact design and green features to comprehensive resident services – this property has been thoroughly planned, including specialized mental health services,” shares Laura Archuleta, president of Jamboree Housing Corporation, a leading nonprofit affordable housing developer with a portfolio that includes the development of and/or ownership interest in more than 5,900 affordable rental apartment homes in more than 53 California communities.
Home to the happiest place on earth, Anaheim is also home to some 900 homeless individuals living with mental illness – nearly 16% of the county’s overall total for this segment of residents. And, in a state where the chronically homeless population outpaces the national average, local officials and affordable housing developers alike are applauding the merits of Diamond, an innovative new and cost-effective solution in the fight to help end long-term homelessness.
Combining the creative use of land, sustainable building practices and strategic partnerships under one roof, Diamond is home to 25 families who earn no more than $30,120 – 30% of the area median income.
The property is integral to the City of Anaheim’s overall commitment to expand the development of affordable housing to more than 1,400 units in five years. In fact, the City purchased 17 remnant parcels of an Interstate 5 (I-5) freeway expansion from the Orange County Transit Authority to recycle these properties back into use. Diamond is one of those 17 remnant parcels, and one of three affordable housing properties awarded to Jamboree to develop.
The small size and odd shape of the property’s remnant site posed a challenge for the development team.
According to the architect, KTGY Group, Inc., a large portion of the site was limited because the dimensions narrowed so small from the cul-de-sac and storm drain easement that the site had to be bisected. The usable portion was dedicated to providing as many family and one-bedroom residential units as possible. “The architectural elements help return something back to the community, not only to house, but to help reconnect people and neighborhoods where the I-5 widening has reshaped this part of town. The craftsman-inspired design opens up and embraces the neighborhood with architectural forms of windows, doors, balconies, and garden walls,” says David Obitz, KTGY’s principal and designer.
Known for its ability to effectively educate and engage local neighborhood groups, Jamboree, along with KTGY and city officials, worked closely with the community to make Diamond a reality. According to Archuleta, it took some real convincing to overcome community concerns about the residents who would be living here. Through a series of several community meetings, which included testimonies from residents who were benefiting from permanent housing already in place elsewhere in Southern California by co-developer H.O.M.E.S. (Helping Our Mentally Ill Experience Success), Jamboree eventually overcame initial community opposition.
“Combined with vision and financial support, land and political will are the ingredients for advancing successful affordable housing,” emphasizes City of Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle. “Diamond is the culmination of these ingredients and a winning recipe of continuous social services, permanent housing, and the opportunity for families to have a place to call home.”
Another unique feature of Diamond is that it provides not only housing but also mental health supportive services for previously homeless individuals and their families. For these residents with persistent mental illness, permanent housing is critical to providing stability and ongoing mental health services. Often, rental housing that serves the chronically homeless and/or those with mental illness is designed for individuals and is predominately studio and one- bedroom units. Diamond takes a different approach by providing housing that allows families to remain together – and in some cases reunites them. For the woman with a degenerative eye disease, her two-bedroom home at Diamond designed for people with sensory deprivations, along with onsite, clinical mental health services, provides the opportunity for improved mental and physical health. That translates to the stability and physical space she needs to now allow her to share custody of her children with regular visits and a room of their own.
Inclusion of fully funded, ongoing supportive services – delivered with a “whatever it takes” approach – will enable residents to live in permanent housing with a stable environment. Telecare Corporation, the Orange County Healthcare Agency’s Full-Service Partner, will assist residents eligible for services under the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) with 24/7 availability for support of daily living activities and link them to other supportive and independent living services.
The property’s multiple layers of both public and private funding includes sources such as MHSA – the result of a proposition passed by California voters in 2004 to provide dedicated funding for the expansion of county mental health services and programs. In fact, according to Mark Refkowitz, Behavioral Health Director for the Orange County Health Care Agency, Anaheim is the first city in Orange County to approve a mental health services project. Financing also came from the Governor’s Homeless Initiative through the California Department of Housing & Community Development Multifamily Housing Program. Governor Schwarzenegger’s goal is to create 10,000 additional units of permanent supportive housing for the population of homeless individuals with chronic mental illness. Additional funding sources for the $9.8 million project include the Anaheim Housing Authority, Anaheim Redevelopment Agency, California Housing Finance Agency, OC Community Services, WNC & Associates, Inc., Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
All fully furnished units include ENERGY STAR appliances, window and floor coverings, ample storage closets and private outdoor space. A 2,500-square-foot resident services center features case management offices, a teaching kitchen, multipurpose room and computer lab. The residential units are grouped together and organized around an efficient common corridor but the heart and soul of the property is the extensive resident services program. “The functional and symbolic ‘front door’ gives identity for its residents and the community. It links the internal residential uses to outdoor functions like recreation and parking. The design lends visual and physical connections to the greater community,” explains Obitz. Surrounded by lush landscape, Diamond is a modern, compact design community with shopping, medical services, employment opportunities and schools nearby.
Consistent with the City of Anaheim and Jamboree’s increased commitment to sustainable development, Diamond is designed to be the developer’s first GreenPoint Rated community. Diamond exceeds Title 24 energy efficiency standards by 16.5%. This lowers resident energy consumption, provides a cost-saving benefit to residents, improves the financial feasibility of the development and promotes the health of residents. Building “green” is a natural extension of Jamboree because, outside of rent, one of the largest expenses for residents is utility costs. By creating savings in that area, Jamboree further promotes the financial stability of its residents.
Furthermore, in its mission to strengthen communities by improving the quality of family life, Jamboree’s Housing with HEART (Helping Educate, Activate and Respond Together) will offer free, non-clinical, onsite resident services and programs tailored to meet the needs of residents and their families. These programs will link residents to Jamboree’s network of community services in the greater Anaheim area and include onsite activities such as homework assistance and tutoring for children and consumer credit counseling, ESL classes, financial literacy and pre-employment counseling for adults.
“Mental illness is not the knockout punch, homelessness is,” says Helen Cameron, Executive Director of
H.O.M.E.S. Cameron points out the cost comparison of H.O.M.E.S. programs and services with that of hospitalizing a mental health client – $30 per day as compared to $1,500 per day. “Diamond represents a huge partnership and network of individuals – including a commitment from the City of Anaheim. We hope this will serve as a cost-effective model for other cities and communities because the need is so great.”
Archuleta further underscores the need for both housing and services and commends City of Anaheim officials for their courage in partnering on Diamond. “The need is already here. By fulfilling this need, the lives of residents will forever be changed because of your willingness and fortitude to make the right decision.”
Madeline Leon can attest to that. Standing before a crowd of more than 200 community leaders and supporters at the official opening of the property, she courageously tells her story. Twelve years ago when pregnant and abused, she lost it all. For 18 months, she and her then 12-year-old son began calling domestic violence and transitional shelters home. Then, in 1999, through the trauma and crisis of her situation, she lost her voice – unable to formulate and communicate her thoughts.
Years later, through the help of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), she would learn that this physical symptom was a result of her mental disorder. For nearly a decade, she battled major clinical depression and struggled to hold down a job to provide for her sons. “I know a lot about closed doors – knocking, waiting and then being turned away. But not today. Diamond has opened a door to a new home and a new way of life. My goals are expanding, my energy increasing and my desire to move forward finally exists and can be sustained. That I can stand before you today speaking like this is monumental for me. So what does Diamond mean to me? I’m standing on top of a mountain.”
Additional info on chronic homelessness as well as Diamond Property Photos, Fact Sheet, Project Overview and Green Features available upon request.
About Jamboree: Founded in 1990, Jamboree Housing Corporation is a broad-based nonprofit housing development company that develops, acquires, renovates and manages permanently affordable rental and ownership housing for lower-income families and seniors throughout California. Housing with HEART, a 501 (c)(3) organization, is Jamboree’s Resident Services Group. Jamboree is Orange County’s leading nonprofit developer with a portfolio that includes the development of and/or ownership interest in more than 5,900 affordable rental apartment homes in more than 53 California communities. Currently, Housing with HEART programs and services are offered at 36 Jamboree communities with designated staff at each location. More information is available at www.jamboreehousing.com.
ABOUT H.O.M.E.S.: Founded in 1985, H.O.M.E.S., Inc. (Helping Our Mentally Ill Experience Success) - a community-based 501(c)(3) – is the only nonprofit in Orange County to provide permanent supportive independent housing for adults with persistent mental illness. Its housing programs encourage independence and self-reliance by helping individuals succeed in their own local communities and beyond. To date, H.O.M.E.S. boasts more than 400 graduates. In recent years, the Board has placed an added emphasis on homeless individuals with mental illness. As a result, H.O.M.E.S. is a Co-General Partner in the development of a 30-unit apartment complex in Midway City – the only program of its type in Orange County. Transitional and permanent housing is provided in six additional homes.
About Anaheim: The City of Anaheim, founded in 1857, is one of the nation's premier municipalities and is California's 10th most populous city. Anaheim covers 50 square miles with more than 345,500 residents and more than 3,200 City employees. The municipal corporation's annual budget is $1.4 billion. Anaheim supports a thriving business community with companies such as Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., L-3 Communications, Pacific Sunwear, and Disneyland Resort. Successful sports franchises call Anaheim home, including Angels Baseball, Anaheim Ducks, Anaheim Arsenal, and the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal winning USA Men's Volleyball team. Anaheim also boasts world-class meeting and entertainment venues with the Anaheim Convention Center, the largest on the west coast, Honda Center, The Grove of Anaheim, The Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk, and Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Annually, Anaheim welcomes millions of visitors to the city, truly making it where the world comes to live, work and play. For more information, please visit www.anaheim.net.
About KTGY Group: Established in 1991, KTGY GROUP, INC., Architecture and Planning, provides comprehensive planning and architectural design services for residential communities, retail developments, hospitality and related specialty projects. KTGY delivers innovative solutions that reflect clear understanding of development, marketing and financial performance and takes particular pride in its highly motivated and principal led studios. Serving clients throughout the U.S., KTGY maintains offices in Irvine, Oakland and Santa Monica, and in Denver. For more information, see www.ktgy.com.
About Build It Green: GreenPoint Rated is a program of Build It Green, a professional non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote indoor air quality, resource conservation and water conservation. Green building offers homebuilders, community leaders and California residents sensible solutions that improve an individual home’s performance and provide broad-based community benefits. These benefits range from cleaner air to reduced traffic congestion, from more appealing recreational opportunities to greater economic vitality. Developments designed to reduce dependence on cars help ease traffic congestion, which can improve business productivity.