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COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 2


Meeting Date: February 12, 2008

Subject/Title: Receive and File Information Item on Brentwood Senior Commons
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Prepared by: Kwame Reed, Senior Housing Analyst

Submitted by: Gina Rozenski, Redevelopment & Housing Manager
Howard Sword, Director of Community Development


Brentwood Sr. Commons and Eden Housing
• Eden Housing is one of Northern California's premier nonprofit affordable housing developers and managers, as well as one of its oldest. Since 1968, Eden has been creating a variety of high-quality affordable housing opportunities for lower-income families, seniors and people with disabilities. Eden’s properties include multi-family rental housing, co-ops, supportive housing and first-time homeownership housing.
• Brentwood Sr. Commons is an 80-unit senior housing project that provides affordable housing to persons 62 or older that qualify as either Very-low or Extremely-low income households.
• Rents range from $627 - $705 per month.
• 79 units are one-bedroom units ranging from 650 to 730 sf, except for the single manager’s unit which is two bedrooms.
• Project is next to a Tri-Delta Transit Dimes-a-Ride route.
• On-site community building is 2,229 sf, and includes a management office, a service coordinator office, maintenance shop, full kitchen, two bathrooms and a large meeting room.
• Each unit is provided a washer, dryer, range and dishwasher.
• Gated community with 7 two-story garden-style apartment buildings.
• Swimming pool, outdoor spa and large shaded patio.
• First floor units and public spaces are designed for wheelchair accessibility.
• 5% of units are full ADA accessible; all other units can be converted with grab bars and safety features.
• Project serves to meet a shortage of affordable units for seniors in Brentwood. There are only 160 affordable units at Brentwood Senior Commons and Sycamore Place that serve seniors in Brentwood, yet our population of seniors over the age of 65 is approximately 3,500.
• Eden Housing provides supportive services for the on-site elderly and residents with disabilities.
• City and Redevelopment Agency provided a loan in the amount of $1,000,000, representing 5.5% of the total $18,105,000 construction cost. This was approved by Council and Agency in January 2005.
• Other sources of funding included tax credits of $11.7M, County CDBG for $2.8M, Wells Fargo Bank for $1.6M, and developer equity of $1M.
• Loan agreement requires the complex to remain affordable for seniors for 55 years (Year 2060).
• Eden Housing has not violated any loan terms and conditions by seeking additional financial assistance for their occupants.

Information on Project-Based Section

• Project-Based Section 8 properties are subsidized by HUD, administered by the County Housing Authority, and managed and operated by private owners. Project-Based Section 8 housing vouchers are tied to the units instead of the tenants, as is the case with the more well-known Section 8 assistance program.
• EHI’s application for 31 units to receive Project-Based Section 8 housing assistance has been approved at all necessary levels (County, regional and federal).
• The application for the remaining 48 units has received County approval; application is pending regional and federal approvals.
• If approved, the Project-Based vouchers will help individuals pay a rent that is based on a percentage of their income vs. a fixed rental amount:
o Take, for example, a senior making 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) and qualifies as very-low income household.
o This senior earns approximately $16,800 a year or $1,400 per month.
o The current rent structure requires this senior to pay rent of $700 per month, or half of their monthly income.
o Without Project-Based Section 8 assistance, if this person’s income decreases, they are still required to pay the $700 rent even though their income is less, causing undue hardship.
o With Project-Based Section 8 assistance, Eden can provide the unit to the senior wherein the senior pays no more than 30% of their income towards rent and the assistance program pays the remainder.
o As the senior gets older and income decreases, the Project-Based assistance program will allow that senior to stay in the same unit instead of being asked to find other living arrangements.
o This allows the senior to age-in-place, rather than being asked to leave, when their monthly income decreases.
• The Project-Based Section 8 also provides EHI with additional funding from the project lender, in this case Wells Fargo Bank. The lender views the Project-Based Section 8 as guaranteed income for a certain amount of units and as such will provide additional funding for capital improvements. This could take the form of a transportation bus for medical appointments and to the new senior activity center.
• EHI will continue to screen the applicants through their regular process, not the County Housing Authority.
• Typically, applications for Project-Based Section 8 assistance are made at the beginning stages of a project when other funding sources are identified.
• Because additional Project-Based assistance was available, the Housing Authority recently opened the competitive process to receive Project-based Section 8 applications.
• The proposed contract between EHI and the Housing Authority would provide assistance for 10 years.

Questions and answers

Will Brentwood Senior Commons still require tenants to be at least 62 years of age?
Yes, at least one person in each household must be 62 years of age.


Is the complex full?
Yes, and the waiting list is 100. The current waiting list for Sycamore Place, the other senior apartment complex in Brentwood, is 109, and the waiting period for senior housing is generally between one and two years. The vacancy rate for senior apartments in Brentwood is 1% and turnover is rare, due almost exclusively to death or inability to continue to live independently.

Eden Housing provides on-site senior counseling services to address multi-faceted needs such as transportation, nutritional services, social activities, art, dance and cultural classes, guest speaker presentations and individualized case management. Creating a supportive environment allows seniors to age-in-place and prevents unnecessary and premature institutionalization.

Can a grandchild live with a grandparent?
Yes. However, all units have only one bedroom so the likelihood that a grandchild would live with a grandparent is minimal. Eden Housing has not experienced this phenomenon at its other Bay Area senior apartments. Nor has Sycamore Place, an 80-unit senior complex on Sycamore Drive since 1999, ever experienced this situation in its history.

Is there an age limit for overnight guests?
No, there are no house rules for ages of overnight guests.

How long can a guest stay overnight?
While this is not regulated by the City’s loan agreement, house rules allow a guest to stay no longer than 15 days per year. There have been no violations.

What about parking?
Eden Housing applied for a density-bonus under State law because 100% of their units are affordable to seniors. As part of the State density-bonus law and City Zoning Ordinance, Brentwood Senior Commons was entitled to receive concessions from the City. The City provided this special consideration in the form of reduced parking. Rather than 2 parking spaces per unit, as is typical for family apartments, the City allowed 1.2 parking spaces for each senior, one-bedroom unit. The complex has 96 parking spaces, 80 covered and assigned spaces for tenants, and 16 uncovered spaces for guests.

What are the current crime statistics for senior housing?
To enhance the safety for the seniors, the City required Brentwood Senior Commons to be gated and have an on-site manager. Since occupancy, the Police Department has received only two calls from Brentwood Senior Commons: a missing adult and suspicion of identify theft.

Does our Police Department expect higher crime rates at Brentwood Senior Commons after conversion to project-based Section 8 assistance?
No. There is no expectation that additional assistance to help seniors with their monthly rent payments will increase the crime rate at the complex.

Does the City screen the tenants before renting the units?
No, the City does not screen tenants. It is the responsibility of the owner/operator, in this case Eden Housing, to conduct the screening process. Eden conducts a credit check, criminal background check and sex offender check on a nation-wide level, checks with landlords for the previous 5 years, and verifies the applicant’s income level and accessibility needs to determine which unit will be ideal for the applicant. The County Housing Authority will not provide screening functions for Brentwood Senior Commons.

Do City residents vote on an apartment complex receiving Section 8 assistance?
No. City residents have no legal right to vote on federal benefit programs or place restrictions on particular classes of people.

Can the City adopt special requirements on properties where the landlord is accepting Section 8 assistance?
No. Special requirements and oversight regulations on particular classes of people is discriminatory. However, the City has recently adopted two ordinances that provide the City the ability to proactively enforce maintenance issues on the exterior of homes throughout the City.

How can the City enforce maintenance of Brentwood Senior Commons so that surrounding property values are not affected?
The City recently adopted a Property Maintenance Ordinance and a Nuisance Abatement Ordinance which allows the City to proactively enforce maintenance of the exterior of all residential units throughout the City.

Even before the new ordinances, as a lender for Brentwood Senior Commons, the City had, and continues to have, the authority to enforce the property remain in “first class” condition. Eden Housing has a reputation in the multi-family residential industry of keeping their properties in very good condition. As a large non-profit housing developer, it is the mission of Eden Housing to keep their projects in their asset inventory and not sell their properties.

Do owners/operators of apartment complexes need a City business license?
Yes, multi-family apartment complexes must apply for a business license.

Does converting to Project-Based Section 8 assistance violate any of the City agreements or covenants?
No. There is nothing in the City’s loan agreements or covenants that prevent Eden Housing from seeking additional housing assistance for its occupants.

Do existing agreements and covenants at Brentwood Senior Commons, adopted by previous Councils, need to be changed for future housing agreements?
Staff believes all current regulations, agreements, terms, conditions and covenants are still applicable for BSC and for future multi-family developments, except to include minimum age restrictions for co-habitants at senior complexes and to require the City receive notice when owner/operators apply for additional financial assistance for their tenants.

Can Eden Housing sell Brentwood Senior Commons?
Eden Housing cannot sell, assign or transfer more than 49% interest in Brentwood Senior Commons without the prior written approval of the City Manager. This gives the City the opportunity to investigate the reputation and experience of the new owner before granting approval. Our agreement does include pre-approved transfers such as to a limited partnership where Eden Housing is the general partner. However, as stated earlier, Eden Housing prefers to maintain their properties in their asset inventory.

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