BUENA PARK, CA - Jamboree Housing Corporation announced that construction has begun on Ascent, a 57-unit supportive housing community in Buena Park, located in northern Orange County near the Los Angeles County border. Ascent is Jamboree’s first Permanent Supportive Housing community in the City of Buena Park and builds upon the commitment both partners have to address chronic homelessness through the creation of more supportive housing communities. Ascent is Jamboree and the City of Buena Park’s third collaboration to create more affordable housing – Park Landing in 2013 and Clark Commons in 2016 – which provided 140 new apartment homes for working families.
Supportive housing is a nationally recognized best practice in permanently ending homelessness and regional data shows that its 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 Costs to Our Community – found that it is 50% less to place a chronically homeless person in permanent supportive housing with services ($51,587) as compared to that same person living on the streets and in emergency shelters ($100,759). Since the release of this study, the County of Orange has adopted a plan and committed to fund the construction of 2,700 supportive housing units over the next three to five years.
“The Orange County Board of Supervisors is working to address chronic homeless in every community in Orange County,” said 4th District Supervisor Doug Chaffee, whose district includes the City of Buena Park. “From providing funding to the newly created Orange County Housing Finance Trust, to investments in our shelter system, we’re working to create a full spectrum of housing opportunities to end homelessness in Orange County. Ascent is the perfect example of what’s possible when you have a committed City partner, targeted County dollars, and a creative development team like Jamboree who can transform old structures into new, community assets like supportive housing.” Ascent will play a critical role in Buena Park and Northern Orange County’s overall homelessness response, offering permanent housing exits from the City’s new homeless Navigation Center.
A motel conversion, the development of Ascent required Jamboree to work with the City of Buena Park to design an entitlement process that would allow the City to creatively rezone motel buildings – which currently attract a high-frequency, transient clientele¬ – into attractive, permanent residential apartments that address affordable and supportive housing needs within the Buena Park community. To accomplish this, Jamboree worked with the Buena Park City Council and the wider community prior to applying for entitlements, which allowed time to build local support for the overall development concept. Robust public outreach took the form of community meetings, city council study sessions, and numerous stakeholder briefings and resulted in the City Council’s unanimous endorsement of the Ascent development concept. This initial support allowed Jamboree to fast-track the rest of the entitlement process through a Development Agreement and Text Amendment which received unanimous support when presented to the Buena Park Planning Commission and City Council in February of 2020.
“California is in the midst of a homelessness 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. “Ascent required the City to be flexible when it came to a unique entitlement process but, in return, the City will receive a permanent community benefit in the form of supportive housing.”
An adaptive reuse property, Ascent will be comprised of an interior and exterior update of the two existing two-story buildings. Additionally, a newly constructed one-story building will feature a 2,744-square-foot community center that includes individual counseling rooms, group meeting space, a community kitchen, resident lounge, and an indoor/outdoor flex space for resident activities and meetings. An outdoor courtyard with barbecues, tables, a community garden, and inviting landscaping will provide additional gathering space for future residents. Interior studio refurbishments include new windows and flooring, updated cabinetry, 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 located within a mile of the future supportive housing community. Jamboree will oversee the delivery of supportive services for all residents living at Ascent, and the Orange County Healthcare Agency’s Adult and Older Adult Behavioral Health Division (AOABH) will be the service provider for the 28 homes set aside for residents living with a mental health diagnosis. Supportive services will be tailored to the specific needs of future Ascent residents and will include services such as medication management, mental health counseling, and general life skills training. “Jamboree’s robust supportive services model is what makes our supportive housing communities so successful,” said Laura Archuleta, Jamboree’s President and CEO. “Jamboree’s ongoing success with this national housing first model encourages local governments like the City of Buena Park to think about how supportive housing and services can improve their own communities.”
In response to local neighborhood concerns voiced about safety and security, Jamboree will incorporate surveillance and fob-restricted entry into the design of the community. The newly updated apartments will be fully furnished and, upon move-in, will include a home starter kit of household essentials for residents, including linens, kitchen supplies, cleaning products, and other necessities.
Ascent will serve households who earn no more than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Twenty-eight of the units will be set aside to specifically support people living with a mental illness through the Orange County Housing and Community Development department. Financing for the $18.7-million development consists of a $8.2 in Section 8 Vouchers from the County of Orange; $4.4 million in Special Needs Housing Program funds from California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA); a $1.4 million loan from the Orange County Housing Finance Trust; $6.7 million in tax credit equity provided by National Equity Fund; $10.4 million in construction financing, and $6.7 million in permanent financing from CIT Bank.