Affordable housing complex breaks ground in East Palo Alto


East Palo Alto Mayor Donna Rutherford, San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum and other city and county officials marked the construction start of an affordable rental community for East Palo Alto seniors at a groundbreaking ceremony on March 17.

University Senior Housing is located at 2358 University Ave. and was developed by local nonprofit EPA Can Do and MidPen Housing. The $25 million development is expected to open in early 2017 and will provide 36 one-bedroom and five two-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors earning up to 60 percent of area median income, which is $49,260 for a single-person household, according to a press release from MidPen.

"University Avenue Senior Housing brings much needed affordable housing to our city's growing population of senior residents," Rutherford said in a statement. "It's a beautifully designed community that will be an asset to our city for years to come."

The complex, which is situated within walking distance of the East Palo Alto Senior Center, the city library, a pharmacy, a market, the fire station and a bus stop, will also feature a community garden, barbecue area, computer lab and community room with a kitchen.

Residents will also have access to onsite programs and services offered by MidPen, including health and wellness programs (group exercise classes, health fairs and educational workshops) and social programs (holiday parties and bingo nights).

Funding for the project was provided through public and private sources, according to a press release, including the City of East Palo Alto, County of San Mateo Department of Housing, Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Equity Fund, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco AHP, HEART of San Mateo County, Boston Private Bank & Trust Company, Silicon Valley Bank and California Community Reinvestment Corporation.

EPA Can Do Executive Director Robert Jones praised the "culmination of a lot of hard work" that lead to the milestone.

"Creating a sense of place for our seniors here in East Palo Alto has been a longtime vision of EPA Can Do," Jones said in a statement. "... I am thrilled to see our vision become a reality."

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