A June 2 decision to approve plans for an affordable housing development near the Southeast corner of Raymond and Orangethorpe demonstrated how low income people are treated in Fullerton. The approval for the 36 unit building necessitated a zoning change from industrial to residential for the 1220 E. Orangethorpe location. It is pushed literally to the edge of the city’s border with Anaheim, into an area with virtually no other residences nearby. In addition to 36 apartments, the development will include 2,000 square feet of commercial space.
The city’s goal for the years 2013 – 2021, according the staff report, is to build 411 housing units for residents designated to be Very Low Income, and 299 units for those falling into the category of Low Income. The Community of Friends project includes 35 Very Low Income* units, a welcome addition of affordable housing in a city sorely lacking it (one unit is reserved for the property manger). The Community of Friends project received
$ 1.4 million $ 3 million** in affordable housing subsidies from Fullerton.
The project itself merits some attention for its commitment to green building standards, including LEED Platinum certification, energy efficient appliances, grey water systems, and, judging from the illustrations, plenty of solar panels, secure bike storage, etc. The inclusion of an on-site ground floor healthy eatery is a good start toward making decent food available to residents (Monkey Business Cafe was mentioned in the presentation, but, honestly, I can’t find their name in the report anywhere), but the nearest supermarkets are a mile away.
According the project description, the development would serve “individuals with a diagnosed mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and supportive housing for low income families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness”. Is there a particular reason to mix poor families who aren’t mentally ill be with those in need of mental health services?
Most troubling is the location itself, right in the middle of an industrial zone. The original location proposed for a stretch of Commonwealth Ave. west of Euclid met with neighborhood opposition, leading to its relocation to a veritable housing desert near a gas station and other businesses. The nearest elementary school is nearly a mile and a half away, by surface streets. Is this really where we have to put poor families?
* An earlier proposed development that would have been sited at the old Hawaiian Punch factory on Walnut would have also have included 36 Very Low Income units, but was torpedoed by a combination of the (temporary) shifting of funds to another projected fronted by an ex-politician and intense, and most would say unfounded, criticism by a current member of the council.
**Thanks to reader “John Doe” for pointing out the error in the amount of funding given by the city listed in the original post.