For Adar Bolton, her new apartment on Newhall Avenue is the first home she’s had in years that makes her feel dignified and safe.
A single mother with a disability on a fixed income, Bolton previously lived in an apartment she describes as filthy and dangerous. She was afraid if she couldn’t find anywhere else to live, she would be homeless.
She and her daughter, along with 28 other families, have just settled into Three Oaks, an apartment complex in Newhall that looks like a luxury development from the outside and has been 10 years in the making.
Though it has the appearance of being expensive, Three Oaks is Santa Clarita’s first ever completely affordable housing complex specifically for low-income families.
“It’s been a very long time since we lived in a place where we weren’t embarrassed to have friends and family over, in a place that we were proud of, in a place where I didn’t feel less than anymore, a place that makes my daughter wake up smiling every morning,” Bolton said Wednesday at the Three Oaks grand opening.
Low-income families do not often have the option to live somewhere that is both affordable and attractive, Bolton said.
“Wouldn’t it be beautiful if places like this were the norm instead of the exception?” she said.
Before it was an apartment complex, the lot served as a city-owned CalTrans Park and Ride.
Between funds, Community Development Block Grants and the contribution of the land, the city of Santa Clarita contributed $5 million to the project.
“What we’re trying to do, and what this is such a perfect example of, is changing the narrative on what affordable housing is,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said. “There is such a stigma when you talk about affordable housing, what that means and what that looks like.”
Smyth hopes Three Oaks will serve as an example for future complexes in Santa Clarita and in other cities across California.
For families, seniors, veterans or other working professionals, Smyth said the city will continue to find ways to make housing units available for those who want to live and work in the community.
Three Oaks is comprised of nine three-bedrooms and 21 two-bedrooms. Rents range anywhere from $553 to $1,161 for the two-bedrooms and $633 to $1,336 for the three-bedrooms.
The apartments are reserved for those between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income.
“The demand for this type of housing, housing that is built to last and is permanently affordable, is astounding,” Craig Farmer, an executive with Related California, the statewide real estate development company that specializes in luxury and low-income units and built Three Oaks.
All units have free internet access, a secure storage locker, parking spaces and a patio or balcony.
There is a communal children’s playground, a picnic and barbeque area and a 1,600 square-foot community center that has a laundry room, computer space and management and social services office.
“It’s not just about the structure. It’s not just about the building, the space, the facility. It’s also about how do we work with the residents living within this community to enhance their quality of life,” Steve PonTell, CEO and president of affordable housing developer National Community Renaissance said.
In addition to the physical amenities, Three Oaks is meeting the needs of its residents with onsite adult education classes, workshops, youth services, resource referrals, individualized case management, crisis intervention and healthcare through the Hope Through Housing Foundation.
“What I see is not just buildings, but what I see is families and I see people, I see futures here and I see hope,” Hope Through Housing President Greg Bradbard said.