A run-down Escondido apartment complex is being transformed into a home for teens and young adults who had been living on the streets.
The YMCA of San Diego County’s Youth & Family Services is in the process of renovating the two-building complex at 711 West Lincoln Ave.
“The idea here is to make this a place that allows the youth, the teenagers to really feel like this is not some hole in the wall but this is a nice place to call home,” said Jonathan Hall, YMCA vice president and CFO.
“I can’t stress enough the importance that the team has put in making these units not just safe and clean, but really making them aesthetically pleasing,” Hall said.
The $9.5 million project will provide a home for 44 low-income youth between the ages of 16 and 26.
The complex has 25 apartments of about 930 square feet. Each apartment will be shared by two people, and the YMCA will provide social services on site.
Dream Come True
“This is really a dream come true,” said Krysta Esquivel, YMCA executive director for youth and family services. “We’re really excited to be able to renovate the entire complex to create dignified spaces for these young people.”
The YMCA bought the property in July 2019 for $5.8 million, according to CoStar, a real estate research firm.
Built in 1979, the apartments in the 23,475 square-foot complex were in serious need of repair when the YMCA acquired it.
“The vast majority of the units were a really bad condition. We’re talking holes in the wall,” said Courtney Pendleton, YMCA associate director of public relations and communications.
“It’s not what we would put our young people in. They weren’t dignified, that’s for sure,” Esquivel said.
Interior Demolition Started
Demolition of the interior of the apartments has just started.
“They’re actually being fully gutted down to the studs,” Esquivel aid.
When the renovation’s finished, Esquivel said the apartments “won’t be high end but they’ll look high end.”
“We’re pretty good at making spaces look beautiful,” Esquivel said.
The HVAC systems are being upgraded and solar electric arrays are being added.
“We’ll have wood floors and ceramic tile throughout, so there won’t be any carpet. All the kitchens are going to be completely redone – new cabinets, new sinks, new appliances, new fixtures. The bathrooms all the same,” Esquivel said.
Converted to Two Bathroom Units
Every apartment had 1 ½ bathrooms but the renovation will convert them into two-bathroom units, Esquivel said.
The exterior of the buildings was in far better condition than the apartments themselves, Pendleton said, but the landscaping will be redone with drought tolerant plants.
A playground outdoor space for residents to just hang out will be added.
“It will be a lovely community space for our tenants to congregate outside, if they want to have a barbecue or be outside to study,” Esquivel said.
Ware Malcomb is the architect on the renovation.
The YMCA has been renting apartments throughout San Diego County for homeless teens and young adults, but the cost was becoming prohibitive because of rising rental rates, Esquivel said.
“We found if we kept going with that model, renting apartments at the market rate, we will be priced out and we would no longer be able to provide essential and critical services,” Esquivel said.
First YMCA Residential Project in North County
This is the YMCA’s first residential project in North County and the biggest.
The nonprofit also has two residential complexes in City Heights and one in Clairemont Mesa.
“The need for housing in North County is pretty high,” Esquivel said.
Hall said there are nearly 2,000 homeless teens and young adults countywide, and the need for temporary housing for them is particularly acute in North County.
“The idea is they come to us and we really wrap around them and support them so they don’t need to access public services again,” Esquivel said. “It’s really a place where young people can come in and feel safe and supported.”
The YMCA financed the Escondido project in part through a $2 million grant from San Diego County and through $1.7 to $1.8 million it expects to receive under the New Markets Tax Credit program through Civic San Diego with Chase Bank as the tax credit investor.
“We know there’s a need and we’re seeing more and more homelessness of all ages, especially youth that are in transition from foster care,” said Joanna Whitley Broussard, Civic San Diego associate project manager. “We also really do like the structure and vision of the YMCA as a partner.”
Civic San Diego has worked with the YMCA to help finance two other San Diego County projects using the tax credits – the Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights and the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in Mountain View.
Established in 2000 by Congress, the New Markets Tax Credit Program allows individuals and corporations to received credit against federal income taxes for investments in low income communities.