BUENA PARK, CA – Jamboree Housing Corporation announced that construction has begun on Ascent, a 57-unit residential community in Buena Park in northern Orange County, near the Los Angeles County border. Ascent is Jamboree's first permanent supportive community in the city of Buena Park, and builds on the commitment of both partners to tackle chronic homelessness by creating more supportive communities. Ascent is the third collaboration between Jamboree and the City of Buena Park to create more affordable housing – Park Landing in 2013 and Clark Commons in 2016 – providing 140 new homes for working families.
Supportive housing is a nationally recognized best practice for ending homelessness permanently. Regional data show that it is particularly effective in communities like those in Orange County. A groundbreaking 2017 study by UC Irvine, Orange County United Way, and Jamboree – Homelessness in Orange County: The Cost to Our Community – found it is 50% less moving a chronically homeless person into permanent supportive housing with services bring in ($ 51,587) compared to same person living on the street and in shelters ($ 100,759). Since the publication of this study, County Orange has adopted a plan and committed to funding the construction of 2,700 supporting housing units over the next three to five years.
"The Orange County Regulatory Agency is working to target the chronic homeless in every Orange County community," said Doug Chaffee, district director of the 4th district, which includes the city of Buena Park. “From funding the newly created Orange County Housing Finance Trust to investing in our protection system, we're working to create a full range of housing options to end homelessness in Orange County. Ascent is the perfect example of what is possible when you have a dedicated city partner, targeted county dollars, and a creative development team like Jamboree that can turn old structures into new, community assets like supportive housing. "The climb will play a vital role in fighting homelessness in Buena Park and Northern Orange Counties, and will provide permanent exits from the city's new homeless navigation center.
On a motel remodel and Ascent development, Jamboree had to work with the city of Buena Park to devise an eligibility process that would allow the city to creatively convert motel buildings – currently attracting a high-traffic, temporary clientele – into attractive, permanent residential apartments, that meet affordable and supportive housing needs within the Buena Park community. To achieve this, Jamboree worked with Buena Park City Council and the wider community before filing claims, which allowed time to build local support for the overall development plan. Solid public relations work took place in the form of community meetings, study sessions of the city council and numerous briefings of the interest groups and led to the city council unanimously advocating the concept of the advancement development. This initial support allowed Jamboree to expedite the rest of the eligibility process through a development agreement and text change that were unanimously supported when presented to the Buena Park Planning Commission and City Council in February 2020.
"California is in the midst of a homeless and housing crisis that can only end if cities get creative when it comes to boosting housing production," said Connor Traut, Mayor of Buena Park. "The city had to be flexible for the ascent when it came to a unique entitlement process. In return, the city received a permanent community benefit in the form of supportive living space."
As an adaptive reuse property, Ascent will consist of an interior and exterior update of the two existing two-story buildings. In addition, a newly constructed single-story building will have a 2,744 square meter community center that will include individual counseling rooms, group meeting rooms, a communal kitchen, a lounge for residents and a flexible indoor / outdoor area for activities and meetings for residents. An outdoor courtyard with grills, tables, a communal garden and inviting landscaping provides additional meeting places for future residents. Interior studio renovations include new windows and floors, updated closets, and fully furnished kitchenettes.
Ascent's location was chosen in part because of its proximity to existing community services – a medical clinic, public park, and public transportation are just a mile from the future supportive community. Jamboree will oversee the delivery of supportive services to all Ascent residents, and the Adult and Older Adult Behavioral Health Division (AOABH) of the Orange County Healthcare Agency will service the 28 homes designated for residents with a mental health diagnosis are . Support services are tailored to the specific needs of future Ascent residents and include services such as drug management, psychological counseling and general life skills training. "Jamboree's robust supportive services model is what makes our supportive residential communities so successful," said Laura Archuleta, President and CEO of Jamboree. "Jamboree's continued success with this first model of national housing is encouraging local governments like the City of Buena Park to consider how supportive housing and services can improve their own communities."
In response to concerns from the local neighborhood about safety and security, Jamboree will incorporate surveillance and fob-restricted access into the design of the community. The newly renovated apartments will be fully furnished and include a home use starter kit when you move in, which includes linens, kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies and other necessities.
The rise serves households that do not earn more than 50% of the area median income (AMI). Twenty-eight of the units are being reserved specifically for the assistance of people with mental illness through the Orange County's Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding for the $ 18.7 million development consists of $ 8.2 vouchers in Section 8 of County Orange. Special Needs Housing Program funds of $ 4.4 million from the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA); a $ 1.4 million loan from the Orange County Housing Finance Trust; US $ 6.7 million tax credit provided by the National Equity Fund; Construction financing of $ 10.4 million and permanent financing of $ 6.7 million from CIT Bank.