Father Joe’s Villages plans to build more affordable housing in East Village

SAN DIEGO — East Village resident, Mike Madigan, wants to know why so many affordable housing projects are winding up in his neighborhood.

He’s seen what’s happened in recent years as more men and women are forced to live on the streets of the East Village. Madigan and other members of the East Village Residents Group are opposed to a new affordable housing development being build by Father Joe’s Villages. The 444 unit complex at 14th and Commercial will be built on land owned by the non-profit and adjacent to the campus of St. Vincent De Paul’s. 270 units willl be set aside as permanent housing with supportive services for individuals who suffer from mental illnesses or disabilities. The rest are planned for low income and working families who don’t have permanent shelter because of San Diego’s high housing costs.

Madigan, a former developer, says he is not opposed to helping those who are homeless, but he says affordable housing developments should be spread out to other parts of the city or county.

"Finding places to house the homeless and the mentally ill is everybody’s responsibility," Madigan said.

The East Village Residents Groups estimates that 84 percent of the supportive housing units in the downtown area wind up in just one neighborhood- the East Village. "If 80% of the jobs were there, then it would make sense to have 80% of the supportive housing here," Madigan said. "But 80% of the jobs aren’t here, they’re all over the San Diego and so there ought to be opportunities to put some of those units in other communities that are also close to jobs." 

Deacon Jim Vargas, the CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, says he is aware of the complaints about too many affordable housing units being built in the East Village. As part of a long term plan called "Turning the Key," the non-profit is pledging to build or create 2,000 more apartment units. "Two thirds of what we’re building will be outside of the downtown area," Vargas said. More than 12,000 apartment units will be developed by Father Joe’s Villages at renovated motels throughout the county. As for concerns about the growing numbers of unsheltered men and women in East Village, Vargas said, "That’s why we want to make sure we provide the housing that’s necessary so that people can walk down the streets and feel safe." 

According to the planning group, Civic San Diego, affordable housing units account for 18% of all the housing inventory in the East Village.

Civic San Diego has already endorsed the project at 14th and Commercial and is expected to give its final approval next week. 

Groundbreaking is anticipated in January of 2019. For the next year, the site will be one of three locations in the city where an industrial-style tent will be used as a temporary bridge shelter for those who are homeless. 

Categories: Local San Diego News