The National Community Renaissance, known as National CORE, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, is leading a permanent supportive housing project, 740 Foothill Community. The project would be on 740 E. Foothill Blvd., an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County in between the city of San Dimas and the city of La Verne. Both cities are opposed to the project because of its incompatibility with the area and lack of community engagement.
The development would help address the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles County, which declared a state of emergency for homelessness on Jan. 10.
“We definitely understand the nobility of the project, but feasibility is something that both cities question,” Anissa Livas, senior administrative analyst for the city of San Dimas, said.
According to National CORE, the organization was notified by the Los Angeles County Development (LACDA) regarding Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) Round 28 for the development on Nov. 1, 2022. On March 21, the LACDA finalized funding recommendations through NOFA 28 that included $7 million awarded to National Core.
NOFA provides funding for new construction and acquisition projects. This helps create new special needs and affordable rental housing units for residents affected by COVID-19 and for veteran supportive housing projects along with permanent affordable multifamily rental housing units.
Helen Chavez, assistant chief deputy and communications director for Los Angeles Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said Barger’s office notified the city of San Dimas and city of La Verne on April 11, four days after Barger was informed of the proposed funding award for the project by the LACDA.
The potential funding award was supposed to be brought to the Los Angeles Board Supervisors on April 18 for action, but Barger postponed the meeting until May 16. The meeting has been canceled and postponed indefinitely.
National CORE was contacted, but declined to comment.
The 740 Foothill Community would be five stories and consist of 54 apartment homes for seniors 55 years and older that are experiencing or at risk of homelessness including one apartment home for an onsite manager. The housing will also have onsite case management, a community room, 48 long term and six short term bicycle spots and a parking lot.
National CORE is partnering with The People Concern, a social services agency, and their foundation Hope through Housing to provide the necessary onsite supportive services to the residents in the community.
Tim Hepburn, city of La Verne mayor, said he is opposed to the project because it will affect parking, traffic, the residents and businesses in the area.
“The reason I oppose it is not for supportive housing, it’s the fact that it has no business being there,” Hepburn said. “It’s a five story 54 unit in a residential area that has a two story limitation and it needs to be somewhere else that would accept that type of building.”
The project is subject to by-right approval and is not required to have public hearings due to Assembly Bill 2162, which was passed in 2018 that exempts supportive housing from discretionary approvals from local governments.
According to the bill, supportive housing developers do not need to contract the local government or amend an ordinance, charter, general plan, specific plan, resolution, or other land use policy or regulation. The bill also exempts supportive housing developments from ministerial approval from the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires an agency to prepare an approval on an environment impact report for potential projects.
Chavez said the bill took away the power from local governments to interfere with supportive housing projects due to the housing crisis in California.
“When there are development projects that are going to lead to either homeless or affordable housing efforts they cannot be stopped locally anymore,” Chavez said.
Both cities have sent letters to the Los Angeles Board Supervisors stating their opposition to the project and their recommendation to award the $7 million to the U.S. VETS Housing Corporation and Jubilo Village in Culver City that would house large families in 95 units. The LACDA responded to both cities in a letter addressing the various concerns that were raised.
“We’re gonna fight this as a community and both communities together and we’re gonna fight it,” Hepburn said. “It’s just not the right place for our community.”
San Dimas and La Verne residents have voiced their opposition to the project by organizing peaceful protests and creating a petition titled “Stop the proposed 740 E. Foothill Blvd Project” on change.org. The petition has over 3,000 signatures.
Rich Gill, a La Verne resident and the creator of the petition, said the project will deeply affect residents in the area and they will continue to fight against the project.
“We will not allow anything that will harm either city to come into our area,” Gill said. “We will fight it and we will fight it to the best of our ability. We will not let our citizens be harmed like anything negative. Especially when it comes to agendas that are not given to us.”
Chavez said that there is no hidden agenda. Instead it is a wake up call for residents and constituents in California regarding the statewide changes and laws in response to the affordable housing and the homelessness crisis.
“I can definitely empathize and understand why the community is visibly upset because of the lack of upfront communication about it and that is very valid,” Chavez said. “I don’t want to take away from that, but unfortunately, it is a new day in California, thanks to those legislative changes to state laws, and this is what we’re going to see moving forward.”
Samira Felix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.