Santa Paula Times

First round of loans benefit SP Housing Authority’s Citrus Grove

April 24, 2013
Santa Paula News

A small complex of affordable senior housing got a financial boost from a county organization that helps developers rather than dealing directly with those in need of a home.

The Ventura County Housing Trust Fund Board of Directors made its first award of funding to three projects, according to Chair Mary Ann Krause, ACIP. Krause, Santa Paula’s former mayor, said Tuesday that $300,000 was awarded for construction of the Citrus Grove Senior Apartments, to be built by the Santa Paula Housing Authority (SPHA).

The Citrus Grove project will be a six-unit development for low-income seniors, to be located on Santa Barbara Street east of Eighth Street in downtown Santa Paula. The lot formerly was property owned by Blanchard Community Library, which sold the parcel years ago. 

After years of being blighted the vacant parcel will now hold the Citrus Grove Senior Apartments, a project that has received discretionary approvals. Construction will begin within the next few months, with occupancy expected in the first quarter of 2014. 

The complex will be owned and managed by the Santa Paula Housing Authority, which also owns The Orchards, an affordable senior housing complex located on West Main Street that formerly had served as a convalescent hospital. 

Santa Paula Mayor Ralph Fernandez said the city is “grateful for the VCHTF helping provide affordable housing for our citizens. I appreciate VCHTF selecting and approving funding for a quality project like Citrus Grove.”

“It was a long-haul getting this started, but in the last year it has just grown by leaps and bounds,” said Krause. Through the VCHTF the SPHA is receiving a “below market interest rate loan,” a reflection of the agency’s housing funding model. “Essentially, most of what we plan to do is operating a revolving loan fund” that in the future Krause said could involve a new program awarding housing grants outright for the lowest income strata.

The Housing Authority has a proven track record: “The Orchards is a really good, recent example of what they’re going to do” with Citrus Grove. Krause said, “The architecture will be the same,” a traditional design that has proven to be highly admired, so “most people will be happy to see it replicated there... and we’re happy to help fund it.”

At the conclusion of the construction Krause said the SPHA will repay the loan: “Then the money will be available to loan somewhere else. One of the beauties of the fund is an entity such as the City of Santa Paula,” which had contributed $50,000 of housing set-aside funds to help seed the fund, is benefiting from their contribution.

Now, the money has come back to the city in the form of a $300,000 loan to benefit low-income seniors through the SPHA project. “They’ll quickly turn it around,” said Krause, “and it will be available to someone else.”

Linda Braunschweiger, CEO of the fund, said, “The organization has worked for a number of years to get to this point of making its first loans.  We are very excited to play a role in helping individuals and families move into clean, safe, affordable housing.”

Others receiving awards were the San Buenaventura Housing Authority, which received $250,000 for acquisition and conversion of existing housing to affordable housing, to be purchased, rehabilitated and managed; and $200,000 for pre-development costs leading to the construction of Castillo del Sol Apartments, also by the San Buenaventura Housing Authority.

The Housing Trust Fund’s explicit mission is to support more housing choices, by generating and leveraging financial resources, working in partnership with the public, private, and non-profit sectors throughout Ventura County. 

A nonprofit corporation since March 2012, the Ventura County Housing Trust Fund is funded through a number of sources including local government contributions, voter approved state housing bond funds, foundation and business grants, and from individual donations and special events such as HOME’s annual Ventura County Housing Conference. The County of Ventura and the cities of San Buenaventura, Camarillo, Moorpark, and Thousand Oaks have also made substantial contributions to the Fund.