Casa de la Paloma residents Alice and Edick Zaribkhanian
Edick and Alice Zaribkhanian let out a sigh of relief when they received the call six years ago that an apartment was available for them at Casa de la Paloma.
The Glendale-based couple, who had waited four years for that call, was struggling to make ends meet between paying $1,200 a month for their one-bedroom apartment and covering basic necessities like groceries and utilities. The couple even considered leaving the United States, having made a number of sacrifices that left them feeling isolated and uncertain about future care. “We were not able to enjoy any social activities,” says Edick.
Since moving into the Glendale affordable housing community in 2008, they’ve been able to take short trips together and with new neighbors to local stores and the beach, as well enjoy special potlucks and daily exercise classes.
“We’re now able to live comfortably,” says Edick. “I honestly do not know how my wife and I would have survived if we had not been given the great fortune of being selected to move into this building.”
The Zaribkhanians are among a growing number of seniors teetering on the line between finding decent affordable housing and potential homelessness. For many decades, Casa de la Paloma, along with our 24 other affordable housing communities throughout California, has offered a lifeline to low-income seniors who otherwise had few options.
“We’re offering our 2,000 residents [in be.group affordable housing communities] more than a roof over their heads; our mission is to provide an enriching quality of life,” says Jacqueline Seegobin, director of affordable housing. “There’s a comfort among our residents knowing that not only is the staff there for them but also their good neighbors next door looking out for them.”
Residents are now enjoying a newly renovated Casa de la Paloma as part of our commitment to upgrade our affordable housing communities and continue the commitment to low-income seniors for decades to come. Improvements included new elevators, heating and air-conditioning systems, and energy-efficient upgrades throughout the 35-year-old community. Seegobin adds that the organization wouldn’t have been able to achieve its goal without its partnership with key private and public entities.
Working with Citi Community Capital and Raymond James & Associates, the renovation work at Casa was funded through refinancing with tax-exempt bonds and 4-percent low-income housing tax credits. be.group was able to preserve the community’s affordability status as originally established when built; the renovation project extends Casa’s affordable housing status another 55 years.
The partnerships “are the backbone of the affordable housing industry,” says Sonia Rahm, vice president of the municipal securities division at Citi Community Capital, a unit of Citigroup Global Markets Inc. “If you take away any piece of the puzzle, you could not make this deal happen.”
Such partnerships help to bridge a major funding gap for affordable housing. Federal and state monies have dwindled in recent years at a time when demand for such housing has become critical. It also offers a chance to renovate our communities. Construction now under way at Convent Manor in Long Beach is slated for completion by the end of 2014. Communities scheduled for future work include Royal Vista Terrace in Duarte, Sycamore Terrace in Upland, Westminster Court in Bell Gardens, Park Paseo in Glendale and Castle Argyle in Los Angeles.
Many Casa residents are ecstatic about the renovations and feel like they’re living in a brand-new building, says Vardui Dzhuguryan, Casa’s regional housing administrator. “They’ve forgotten that Casa is in fact a low-income housing community.”
Resident Arshalous Abdoian, who has lived at Casa de la Paloma since 2011, beamed when chatting about the renovations. “All of this work was done for our good, so that we can live in a beautiful building,” she says. “It is my home and I love it, though this was not what I thought a couple of years ago when I got the call from Casa telling me an apartment was available.”
Abdoian says she was ready to reject the application because she thought “life would be boring and depressing to live in an elderly people’s building, but since I moved in to now, my life has changed dramatically.”
Not only does she feel safe, but everything she enjoys most in Glendale—including shopping at Macy’s—is just a few blocks away. “These are the things that make our lives interesting, easygoing and worth living.”