Just before the summer came to an end, the doors swung open at Talmadge Gateway, San Diego’s first 100 percent supportive housing community for seniors who have been homeless and have ongoing medial needs. At the grand opening ceremony, California State Senator Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Todd Gloria joined the nonprofit affordable housing developer, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation, and City Heights Community Development Corporation to celebrate.
“Talmadge Gateway is unique in that it not only gives these formerly homeless seniors a safe place to live, but it also offers wraparound supportive services designed to help them live stable, independent lives,” said Ken Sauder, Wakeland’s President & CEO. “Completing this property demonstrates Wakeland’s ongoing commitment to provide affordable and permanent supportive homes in the San Diego region to help alleviate our current housing crisis.”
Wakeland developed the 60-unit property, which includes 59 rentals and 1 managers’ unit, with the support of KCM Group that managed the construction project for Wakeland. The project was delivered on time and on budget. The City Heights Community Development Corporation also played a major role in the development of the project. Services at Talmadge Gateway will be provided primarily by the St. Paul’s Senior Services’ Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a program that supports seniors through providing in-home care, transportation and personalized medical services.
“The Housing First comprehensive approach is critical to getting more seniors and families off the streets and into a real home,” said Gordon Kovtun of the KCM Group. “This was truly an important project for KCM and the city. We’re proud to be a part of this effort that’s providing a real solution to the City of San Diego’s homeless seniors.”
“St. Paul’s has made a commitment to address the overwhelming growth of homeless seniors in San Diego,” said Cheryl Wilson, CEO, St. Paul’s Senior Services. “We’ve provided permanent housing to almost 100 seniors who were previously homeless or at risk of homelessness. Of those, 96 percent continue to live successfully in their new homes and in fact, thrive. We attribute our success to the comprehensive medical and social support provided by the St. Paul’s PACE program. For most of those who live on the streets, their social and health challenges need to be addressed before introducing them into permanent housing, and of course that support must continue once they have moved into their new home. Talmadge Gateway has given us the opportunity to take another 59 seniors off the street. We’re very proud to be a part of this effort,” added Wilson.
The need for permanent supportive housing developments like Talmadge Gateway is strong in San Diego County, particularly for seniors. According to the 2017 San Diego Homeless Point-in-Time count, nearly one-third of San Diego County’s 9,116 homeless residents are seniors. Permanent supportive housing gives these residents a “forever home” where they can become stabilized and access community resources with the goal of staying housed for the long term. This combination of housing and services is known as the Housing First model and has helped some communities reduce chronic street homelessness by as much as 90 percent.
The $20.7 million Talmadge Gateway project gathered support from local community members early in the development process, with neighbors embracing the project’s goal of revitalizing a site that had previously been an auto storage lot with a vibrant new community of affordable homes that serve seniors.
“Community outreach from the very onset shows how a development such as Talmadge Gateway can fit into an older urban area and can complement the surrounding neighborhood,” said Fred Lindahl, a neighbor who serves as Board Chair of City Heights Community Development Corporation and formerly led the Kensington Talmadge Planning Group.
The development designed by Studio E Architects and built by Allgire General Contractors, features three stories of beautiful and functional homes above a ground floor with parking, community rooms and a multipurpose supportive care office. A second-floor terrace offers additional space for socializing, and special architectural details – like wide stairwells with porthole windows and cheerful paint colors – encourage active living. A unique feature of Talmadge Gateway is that the development also includes a new, 500-square foot storefront for commercial use and a 1940’s-era commercial building along El Cajon Boulevard that was renovated during construction.