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YIGBY, Bethel AME Team Up for Affordable Housing

REAL ESTATE: 26-Unit Project to be Built on Church Property

A philanthropic organization formed to fight homelessness has teamed up with a church to build an apartment complex in Logan Heights.

Yes in God’s Backyard (YIGBY) has joined Bethel AME Church of San Diego to build the 26-apartment project on church-owned land in what they hope will be a model for other churches and faith-based organizations to use their property for similar projects.

Harvey Vaughn II
Pastor
Bethel AME Church of San Diego

“We have a tremendous opportunity. Many churches and faith-based organizations have land that is really underused,” said Harvey Vaughn III, pastor of Bethel AME Church.

“We’re hoping that we will have other churches, other pastors, other church boards that will come together and say, ‘Hey, this looks like a great model,’” Vaughn said.
The church is providing the 7,200-square-foot site for the apartments, using property that it owns that had been used for a rental duplex.

The site was cleared to make way for the apartment project, but Vaughn said that the church helped people living in the duplex to relocate and offered to let them rent apartments in the new building once it’s finished.

The church will own and manage the new building, with construction scheduled for completion by the end of 2024.

Evan Gerber
Project Manager
YIGBY (Yes In God’s Back Yard)

More Coming

The pilot project is estimated to cost about $7.15 million, about $275,000 per apartment, which is below the typical cost of many comparable affordable and market rate apartment projects, according to Evan Gerber, YIGBY’s project manager.

Of the 26 one-bedroom apartments, 16 will be rented to formerly homeless veterans through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher program.

Amy Denhart
Director
Funders Together to End Homeless

Off-site case management and clinical services will be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Brillian Corners, a homeless housing placement provider.

Amy Denhart, director of Funders Together, said that YIGBY grew from a conversation among several people, including San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister and Monica Ball, Homeless Services Ministry Lead at The Rock Church and now faith community outreach lead at YIGBY.

Monica Ball
Faith Community Outreach Lead
YIGBY (Yes In God’s Back Yard)

“There’s really a startling amount of multifamily (projects) that can be built on some of these properties,” Ball said. “I have a list of about 100 churches who are eager to build. The enthusiasm is countywide, and we plan to use all of it.”

Vaughn said that his parish has many military veterans and seniors and building an affordable housing project to serve that demographic “was pretty organic.”

“We certainly see providing affordable housing for individuals as part of our ministry,” Vaughn said.

Sized Right

YIGBY was formed in 2019 by Funders Together to End Homelessness, which itself is an alliance of philanthropists and private grant-makers that invest in programs to end homelessness.

The group is chaired by Doug Austin, founder, and chairman of the architectural firm of AVRP Studios.

YIGBY’s goal is to have three to 12 projects in the pipeline within the next 18 months, Denhart said.

“As we can raise the funds, we can scale,” Denhart said. “We’re engaging the faith-based community, who are also very driven to do this work, to be part of the solution.”

YIGBY’s first project was relatively small, because it’s an infill project with a small lot of 7,200 square feet at 3180 Imperial Ave., but Denhart said that the group is eager to work with churches and others on bigger projects.

“This is a good size project for our model,” Denhart said.

The three-story building was designed by LPA San Diego, based in Liberty Station. Hemphill Construction, based in Spring Valley is the general contractor.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful building,” Vaughn said.

Each level has an outdoor deck of about 400 square feet that juts out from the façade “to give people an opportunity to socialize on the premises.”

Although it is not LEED certified, Gerber said that the building will have a number of sustainable features, including rooftop solar panels and high-efficiency lighting and water fixtures.

The site also is in front of a bus stop and has a trolley station within two blocks.
Amenities include on-site laundries and a dog run.

YIGBY (Yes In God’s Back Yard)
FOUNDED: 2019
HEADQUARTERS: University City, San Diego
CEO: Board Chair, Doug Austin
BUSINESS: affordable housing development
EMPLOYEES: 1 consultant
WEBSITE: www.yigby.org
CONTACT: Evan Gerber evan@gerber-group.com
NOTABLE: YIGBY’ is a resource for faith-based communities that want to use their surplus land to develop affordable housing in the San Diego region.

 

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