Low-income seniors brace for fight to keep apartment homes in Ra - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

Low-income seniors brace for fight to keep apartment homes in Rancho Penasquitos

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RANCHO PENASQUITOS (KUSI) — Two hundred low-income families and seniors are on the verge of losing their homes in Rancho Penasquitos.

They will be going to the San Diego Planning Commission on Thursday morning, hoping to keep a developer from tearing down their apartment community, Penasquitos Village.

KUSI's Sasha Foo visited 93-year-old Felicidad Cayabyan who has lived in the apartment community for 22 years. Since she has no family in San Diego, she regards her neighbors as family.

Cayabyan and the other tenants learned last spring that a developer had purchased the property and planned to demolish the apartment complex, replacing it with rental apartments and homes which are priced at $500,000 and up. The developer, Lennar Homes says about 60 rental units will be set aside for low-income tenants.

Donna Tooker, a volunteer with the  grassroots advocacy group, the San Diego Organizing Project is skeptical about the claims that the developer will adhere to that pledge of reserving some units for low income residents.

Tooker said she was dismayed when the local planning board did not halt the project. She said this development violates the guidelines in the Rancho Penasquitos community plan, which calls for 11 percent of the area's housing to meet the needs of low and moderate-income residents.

At one complex down the street, the property did have some units for Section 8 tenants; 30 out of more than 360 units.

We were told that the waiting list for those units has been closed, because prospects will have to wait for 20 years. Jose Rodriguez, another community organizer said we have to stop simply talking about more housing for the poor and do something different.

"You're talking about 200 families that don't have a place to go, if this project moves forward. It's unconscionable that in this time and in the wealthiest country in the history of humanity, that this is the case," Rodriguez said.

A spokesperson for Lennar Homes, the developer that is planning to build the new project told KUSI, "We will not begin construction until housing is secured for every single Section 8 voucher holder."

Lennar said tenants without Section 8 vouchers will also receive help, in the form of a check to cover the difference between their current rent and the rent when they relocate, for a period of eighteen months.

According to the San Diego Housing Commission, more than half of the tenants receiving government subsidies, or Section 8 vouchers have found new homes.

The planning commission will decide on Thursday if the new project should be approved. San Diego's City Council will take a final vote early next year.

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