Doria Apartments Adds to Irvine’s Housing Spectrum
High design standards and landscaping allowed Doria Apartments to blend with the surrounding community. Image Courtesy of Jamboree Housing Corporation. Phase II of Doria Apartment Homes in Irvine, California recently opened, providing 74 housing units affordable to a range of household sizes and incomes. Together with Phase I, which was completed in late 2011, the development now provides 134 workforce residences, including 20 units for special needs residents funded by a state mental health program. Developed by Jamboree Housing Corporation and the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT), Doria Apartments delivers sustainable housing in southern California and furthers Irvine’s commitment to broadening housing opportunities for families and individuals.
Demand for Workforce Housing
As a growing city in Orange County, Irvine has a perennial need for workforce housing. In 2012, nearly half of Irvine renters (46%) spent more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing. Many affordable housing developments have stopped accepting new applications, and those that still do have years-long waiting lists. Population growth is expected to increase the demand for affordable housing; the Orange County Business Council (OCBC) projects that Irvine will add 90,000 new residents and between 50,000 and 100,000 new jobs by 2035. OCBC predicts that, without a commitment to build workforce housing, Orange County will experience a “housing deficit [that] will lead to a rise in home prices and a decline in affordability.”
In response to these affordability pressures, the city of Irvine has committed to building 9,700 units of affordable housing by 2025, totaling 10 percent of the city’s projected housing stock. Established by city council in 2006, ICLT is responsible for creating 5,000 units of affordable housing, over 50 percent of the total goal. ICLT partners with local affordable housing developers and typically retains ownership of the land beneath the building. This arrangement both ensures the long-term affordability of units through ICLT ground leases and reduces the cost of land acquisition for developers, which makes financing the development of new affordable units easier. This strategy is particularly helpful in southern California, where high land costs can stifle the construction of affordable housing.
ICLT partnered with Jamboree to build Doria Apartments in two phases. ICLT provided early financing for soft costs, and Jamboree assembled other funding sources and oversaw the design and construction of both phases. Developing Phase I and Phase II cost $18.3 million and $19.9 million, respectively. Construction and permanent financing for both phases were provided by ICLT, the Irvine Company, the city of Irvine, U.S. Bank, and Orange County. The Irvine Company also provided a below-market, long-term ground lease for the Doria Apartments site. Phase II received an additional $900,000 in financing from the HOME Investment Partnerships program and $380,000 from the Community Development Block Grant program; another $1.1 million came from the California Housing Finance Agency through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), which financed supportive housing for persons with mental illness.
Doria Apartments offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom units that are affordable to households with various income levels (up to 30%, 45%, and 60% of area median income) and family sizes. This range of affordability complements the city and ICLT’s goal of providing units for individuals and families of different means and needs, ensuring that they are able to live in Irvine, says Mark Asturias, executive director of ICLT. Doria Apartments has attracted an diverse set of residents: 29 percent of the households are white, 17 percent are black, 8 percent are Hispanic, 17 percent are Middle Eastern, and 29 percent are Asian.
Building Complete, Healthy Communities
Doria Apartments was designed in a Spanish Colonial architectural style that, in the words of Jamboree’s chief operating officer, Mary Jo Goelzer, “integrates seamlessly with the aesthetic fabric of the surrounding Stonegate community of Irvine, creating a vision of higher design standards for neighboring market-rate multifamily properties.” Many of the community’s amenities were created with families in mind and are comparable to those found in nearby market-rate properties. Divided into two- and three-story garden style apartments centered on a courtyard, the development has a pool, tot lot, and a 3,000-square-foot community building that houses a computer lab and multipurpose room.
Among Doria Apartments’ amenities and services for families is a multipurpose room for children. Image Courtesy of Jamboree Housing Corporation. Family considerations are also the focus of many of the services provided to residents through Jamboree’s Housing with HEART. These services help students with their schoolwork, promote healthy living for families, and enrich residents’ overall quality of life. Students have access to afterschool and summer programs, computer classes, and tutoring. A community garden is also available to students and families, who are able to claim plots to grow vegetables. An onsite program coordinator collaborates with residents to ensure that these services meet their specific needs. Furthermore, individuals living with mental illness are integrated into the community, and their needs are addressed through Jamboree’s HOMES program and Telecare, a mental health service provider that partners with MHSA-funded projects. Through a collaborative approach to residential service for individuals with mental illness and property management, Goelzer says that Jamboree staff members are able to “anticipate and manage issues as they arise” and ensure residents’ long-term housing stability.
Complementing design and services with a commitment to healthy communities, Jamboree included a number of sustainable elements that reduce energy use, water consumption, and the buildings’ carbon footprint. Each home is provided ENERGY STAR®-certified refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwaves. To conserve water, a top concern given California’s recent history with droughts, Doria Phase II has ultra-low-flow toilets and flow reducers for the kitchen and bathroom sinks, in addition to an irrigation system that uses reclaimed water. Overall, these efforts have enabled the development to exceed California’s strict energy-efficiency standards, and Phase II is designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification.
The Strength of Partnerships
Both Goelzer and Asturias say that one of the biggest challenges to developing affordable housing in Irvine is finding suitable land. Land costs can be prohibitively expensive, especially for land located near services, retail, jobs, transit, and other community amenities — important considerations for working households that may not have a car. The partnership model, which allows organizations to come together to identify, acquire, finance, and develop suitable land for affordable housing, is essential for overcoming this challenge. By applying their respective strengths, ICLT and Jamboree created high-quality affordable units for working families and individuals with mental illness in a growing city, ensuring that a diverse population can both live and work in Irvine.