The new North Santa Fe Apartments provides residents with both affordable housing and access to public transportation in Vista, Calif.

Developed by nonprofit Community HousingWorks (CHW), the project features 68 affordable homes for families and youths aging out of foster care. Located directly opposite light-rail station and transit center, the development is a prime example of transit-oriented development.

Designed by Rodriguez Associates Architects and Planners, North
Santa Fe Apartments is located opposite the North County Transit District’s
Vista Transit Center in Vista, Calif. The 68-unit affordable housing community was developed by Community HousingWorks.
Mark Davidson Designed by Rodriguez Associates Architects and Planners, North Santa Fe Apartments is located opposite the North County Transit District’s Vista Transit Center in Vista, Calif.

“Building these affordable apartment homes next to transit, jobs, and shopping centers helps working-class families, seniors, and young people save money, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the use of automobiles,” said Sue Reynolds, president of CHW, a leading affordable housing developer.

Residents have easy access to public transportation, employment, schools, and shopping. Most families living in the community are expected to own one car, far less than many California families, according to the developers.

The community, which replaces a dirt lot that was vacant for more than decade, is designed with green and sustainable features, including a solar power system, Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient systems, and drought-resistant landscaping.  The city of Vista provided a 62-year ground lease for the site.

North Santa Fe is home to working families and individuals. CHW has targeted 10 apartments for young adults aging out of the foster-care system.

More than housing, the development provides key services for its residents. With the support of North County Lifeline, the young people aging out of foster care (ages 18 to 24) who live at North Santa Fe receive educational and related services.

“More than half of young people who leave the foster-care system become homeless after two years being on their own,” said Don Stump, executive director of North County Lifeline. “This community provides a stable home, services, and resources so young people transitioning to adulthood can complete their education and work toward their next stage in life.”

Residents living at North Santa Fe Apartments also benefit from CHW’s nationally recognized after-school programs and adult classes and coaching, designed to help residents gain financial stability, enhance their quality of life, and achieve next-generation success.

The community includes three stories of apartments with a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes, with podium construction over subterranean parking. The building includes a computer room, a reading nook, and a community meeting room with a kitchen. Additional amenities include bike storage, a barbeque area, and a laundry facility.

The $20.5 million development, without land costs, was financed largely with low-income housing tax credits from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Union Bank is the investor for the $16.6 million of housing credits as well as the construction and permanent lender.

“Union Bank is proud to be investing in our seventh Community HousingWorks development—North Santa Fe Apartments. This new community will add transit-oriented affordable housing to Vista,” said Annette Billingsley, head of Community Development Finance for Union Bank. “Community HousingWorks continues to create developments that break new ground in affordable housing, and North Santa Fe Apartments is yet another great example of CHW’s commitment to innovation.”

The city of Carlsbad provided $370,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds. Financing also included NeighborWorks funds, which will be replaced by $670,000 of Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program funds at conversion. Solar and energy program rebates, together with reimbursement from the city of Vista for community upgrades of the sewer in the public alley, complete the project funding.