Apollo affordable apartments for seniors open on Poway Road – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Betsy Smith hit some hard times about six years ago, forcing her to sell her four-bedroom Poway house. Since then, Smith said she has “floated around.”

She rented a room at various places in the area. After several years of keeping most of her possessions in storage, Smith finally has a place to call home again in the Apollo apartments at the Poway Commons.

“Now, I’m around my stuff. I really never thought about it until I got into my own surroundings,” Smith said Thursday in her new one-bedroom apartment. “It’s perfect for me.”

A ribbon-cutting celebration was held Thursday morning for the 44-unit Apollo apartments at the Poway Commons. The apartments, which are 100 percent leased and are expected to be filled by the end of the month, were especially designed for low-income seniors.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, one of several speakers at the ceremony, said that finding housing for seniors is “more important than ever.” The affordable housing community for seniors, including veterans, offers one-bedroom rents ranging from $1,101 to $1,329, and two-bedroom rents ranging from $1,240 to $1,592. Fifteen of the units have preferential placement for veterans.

“I’m delighted to be here today,” Vaus said, “to be here for the opening of this community within a community.”

The Poway Commons is a mixed-use community on the north and south sides of Poway Road, west of Tarascan and Civic Center drives. When complete, it will feature 97 market-rate townhomes and flats by Meridian Communities.

The Apollo project was possible thanks to years of volunteer work on the Poway Road Specific Plan, Vaus said. The Specific Plan, which was adopted in 1996, was the work of a committee of residents and business owners, city staff and a city-hired consultant.

“We are in their debt,” Vaus said.

The units will contribute to the “vibrant core” of the city, he added.

Apollo residents will receive educational and skill building classes including computer literacy, English as a second language, art, job counseling and financial literacy alongside health and wellness workshops and a food distribution program. The classes and workshops, provided by the nonprofit Pacific Southwest Community Development Corporation, will include a minimum of 84 hours of instruction each year on-site at no charge to the residents.

The nonprofit will also offer an onsite Senior Companion Program that will provide support and group assistance, including helping residents apply for needed services, referral to social and health services in the community, and recreational activities.

Poway City Councilmember Dave Grosch thanked Meridian Development and Chelsea Investment Corporation for their help in making the project happen. Grosch said he was especially touched as a senior and a Vietnam veteran to see new, affordable housing.

“That’s a great thing,” he said.

Guy Asaro, president and CEO of Meridian Development, said he was proud of the work that went into Poway Commons. He said he was especially pleased to be involved in the project because he grew up in Scripps Ranch.

“I wanted to get involved because it is in my backyard,” he said.

Emmerson Construction built the Apollo apartment complex; the architect was McKinley Associates

The County of San Diego, through its Innovative Housing Trust Fund, provided $450,000 to the project. The project was funded by a loan from Banner Bank, equity investment provided by Raymond James, and tax-exempt bonds awarded by California Debt Limit Allocation Committee and issued through California Municipal Finance Authority.

“Affordable housing is a critical component of master planned communities like Poway Commons,” said Jim Schmid, founder and CEO of Chelsea Investment Corp. “What we see, particularly in San Diego County, is an extreme shortage of affordable housing in the rental market.”

“Affordable housing is the strongest foothold toward economic stability,” Schmid added. “Our team is not only proud to be a part of the affordable housing solution in Poway, but we are also proud to be a part of changing people’s lives.”

After seeing an ad on Craigslist, Smith applied for a lease last month, joining about 500 others on a wait list. She was approved and moved into the complex on the northwest corner of Poway Road and Tarascan Avenue a couple weeks later.

“I’m just thrilled,” Smith said Thursday. “It’s great. I can walk everywhere. I don’t even have to go out of town.”

Smith, who is retired after serving 40 years in procurement for an environmental firm, said she has already walked to nearby stores and her bank. She has a bus stop right in front of her place as well.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “The units are really nice, too.”

“It’s cool because I love Poway,” Smith added. “We’re right by everything. It’s awesome.”