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Low-income supportive housing for homeless proposed in Citrus Heights

Sunrise apartments, Citrus Heights
A conceptual view provided by the developer shows plans for a 47-unit apartment complex at 7424 Sunrise Blvd. // Image courtesy: Jamboree

Sentinel staff report–
A new 47-unit housing project has been proposed for the old Abel’s Christmas Tree lot on Sunrise blvd., designed to provide permanent housing and on-site supportive services for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and those with very low-income.

The proposal, known as Sunrise Pointe, includes plans for two and three story buildings with a variety of one, two and three-bedroom units on a 2.35-acre lot for housing both individuals and families. The layout includes two main apartment buildings, a total of about 100 parking spaces primarily along the exterior perimeter, a small dog park, an outdoor barbecue and play structure in the middle, and a half-court for basketball.

The project would also be gated in the front, with an 8-foot wall around it, according to the Irvine-based Jamboree Housing Corporation, the project’s developer.

As a supportive housing project, the site would also have on-site management provided by TLCS, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that owns and manages six supportive housing facilities in the region. The project would include a set number of units for those with mental illness.

About 30 residents gathered at a neighborhood meeting to hear a presentation about the project on Tuesday night, with comments from the public ranging from skepticism to support.

“We really help people to be successful in housing,” TLCS Executive Director Erin Johansen told the residents assembled. “When people come into [our] housing development, it’s their forever home. It’s not a shelter; it is a forever home for the individual or the family members that live there.”

Johansen billed the project as a “permanent affordable housing project” that would provide a wide array of on-site services provided to residents. She said those services would include after-school programs for family members’ children, connecting residents with employment services and working together with outside service providers who may be helping with substance abuse counseling, or providing senior services like Meals on Wheels.

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TLCS, an acronym for “Transforming Lives, Cultivating Success,” says on its website that the organization also provides life skills education, psychiatric services and therapy, residential support services, social activities, and crisis intervention.

“This is more than just ‘put an apartment complex up in your area and we walk away,'” said Johansen, noting her organization signs on to a 55-year agreement for its housing projects. She also said residents are required to contribute 30 percent of their income to rent and must income-qualify by earning no more than 45 percent of the median income of the area.

Several concerns were raised from attendees at the Nov. 20 project presentation, including a concern about adjacent property values dropping and a question as to whether local individuals and families would be given preference to become residents.

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“There is the ability for the tenant selection process to allow for a local preference,” said Johansen, noting that federal funding for the project would impose guidelines relating to tenant selection. She said TLCS would work with local organizations like the Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), to try “to accommodate that as best we can.”

Stan Munoz, a Citrus Heights HART board member who lives adjacent to where the project is proposed, said he would fight to see a priority be given to locals in need rather than those outside of the area. Responding to another nearby resident who was concerned about adjacent property values dropping, Munoz also said he visited two other TLCS locations and described them as “well-managed” facilities that appeared to be improving surrounding property values.

“If you look at Abel’s Christmas Tree lot right now, is that improving my property that’s on that street?” he rhetorically questioned during the meeting. “It sure isn’t. It looks like hell.”

A public hearing for the proposed housing project is slated to be held by the Citrus Heights Planning Commission on Dec. 12, followed by another public hearing before the full City Council in January. If approved, the developer estimates breaking ground in 2020 at the earliest, with 12-14 months to complete construction.

Additional questions and answers about the proposed project, along with a site map, are included below.

Will adjacent existing homes lose their privacy if 3-story apartments are built?
According to the developer, privacy will be protected through all buildings having a significant 70-foot setback from the property line, an 8-foot-high wall surrounding the site, and trees planted along the perimeter.

Who owns the property?
Cal Abel, whose family operated the former Abel’s Christmas Tree lot at the site for many years, still owns the property. However, Jamboree has obtained “site control,” which enables them to proceed with initial planning stages and seek funding. If plans are approved, TLCS says the site would then be purchased.

What’s the difference between this and transitional housing?
Johansen said transitional housing will typically have a set period of time, like up to two years, before the resident has to move on or move up to something else. She said Sunrise Pointe would not be transitional, and residents could stay “as long as they want,” if they follow the rules.

Will there be rules enforced at the complex?
Johansen said rules would be enforced and tenants could be evicted if found to be dealing drugs or bringing in people who are not on their lease. But she said behavior like drinking inside a resident’s home would not be enforced. “We’re not enforcing rules inside a person’s home.”

See proposed site map for the project: click here

Want to share your thoughts on the proposed housing? Submit a letter to the editor or opinion column for publication: Click here