A Formerly Underutilized Site now Provides Much Needed Affordable Housing for Seniors in East Palo Alto

Grand Opening of Serenity Senior Apartments, a Development of EPA CAN DO and MidPen Housing

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City and County leaders join MidPen and EPA CAN DO to celebrate the Grand Opening of Serenity Senior Apartments in East Palo Alto.

On November 16th, East Palo Alto Vice Mayor Ruben Abrica and San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum joined other city and county leaders to celebrate the Grand Opening of Serenity Senior Apartments, an affordable rental community jointly developed by EPA CAN DO and MidPen Housing.

Serenity Senior Apartments represents the realization of a longtime vision to transform a previously underutilized site into a vibrant community with 41 homes for low and very low-income seniors, aged 62 and above, in the heart of East Palo Alto.

“This is an exciting day,” said Ruben Abrica, City of East Palo Alto Vice Mayor. “After years of envisioning and planning, Serenity Senior Apartments now provides 41 affordable homes in the heart of our city, including 20 for seniors from East Palo Alto. It’s a beautifully designed community that will be an asset to our city for years to come and a testimony to what can be accomplished when civic and business leaders and non-profit housing developers work together in innovative ways.”

Serenity Senior Apartments is the result of a collaboration between developers EPA CAN DO and MidPen Housing. EPA CAN DO initiated the work in response to the growing need for affordable housing for seniors in East Palo Alto. By early 2013, EPA CAN DO had acquired five parcels on the 2300 block of University Avenue and had secured a total of $2.1M from various sources including the County of San Mateo. A site plan was produced on .75 acres which required site control of one additional parcel. MidPen and EPA CAN DO worked closely to secure that sixth parcel and moved forward as co-developers.

“Creating a sense of place for our seniors here in East Palo Alto has been a longtime vision of EPA CAN DO,” said Robert Jones, Executive Director of EPA CAN DO. “Serenity Senior Apartments does this in a way that shows East Palo Alto in its very best light and highlights what happens when people come together and use their collective resources to make a positive difference.”

As evidence of the tremendous need for affordable housing among the fast growing population of seniors in East Palo Alto, within a 2 week application acceptance period, Serenity Apartments received nearly 700 applications for its 41 apartment homes.

“Housing that’s affordable to seniors is a growing challenge on the Peninsula,” said Matthew O. Franklin, President of MidPen Housing. “So we’re proud to partner with EPA CAN DO and the City of East Palo Alto on this development and applaud their vision, fortitude and commitment to provide quality affordable housing for seniors in a prime location in their city.”

Serenity Senior Apartments provides 36 one-bedroom and 5 two-bedroom apartment homes for low- income seniors earning up to 50% of Area Median Income which is $46,100 for a single-person household. Project-based Section 8 subsidies provide even greater levels of affordability.

The community also features an outdoor courtyard with community gardens and a BBQ area; a fitness center; a computer lab; and a community room with a kitchen and a piano for social gatherings.

Located in close proximity to public transportation, supermarkets, pharmacies, retail, the public library and the local community center, Serenity Senior Apartments provides its residents with easy access to many community amenities. Residents also have access to onsite programs and services provided by MidPen Services. These include health and wellness programs like group exercise classes, “brown bag” food assistance programs, health fairs, educational workshops; and social programs like holiday parties, bingo nights, and other social events.

Financing for the $25M development was provided through both public and private sources including the City of East Palo Alto, County of San Mateo Department of Housing, the Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Equity Fund, Silicon Valley Bank, California Community Reinvestment Corporation, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco AHP, HEART of San Mateo County, and Boston Private Bank & Trust Company.

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About MidPen Housing
It is the mission of MidPen Housing to provide safe, affordable housing of high quality to those in need; to establish stability and opportunity in the lives of residents; and to foster diverse communities that allow people from all ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds to live in dignity, harmony and mutual respect. Since 1970, MidPen has developed and professionally managed over 8,000 homes for low-income families, seniors and those with special needs. With offices in Foster City, Oakland, Santa Rosa and Watsonville, MidPen works in 11 Northern California counties. For more information visit: www.midpen-housing.org

About EPA CAN DO
The mission of EPA CAN DO is to create and maintain affordable housing and to promote community and economic development in the City of East Palo Alto. Since 1992 EPA CAN DO has worked with other non- profits to develop 345 units of affordable and moderate income housing in the City of East Palo Alto. To learn more about EPA CAN DO, visit www.epacando.org