The Orvieto Family Apartments are located on Montecito Vista Lane near Monterey Highway. The land there used to be an old auto vehicle salvage yard, but then the state kicked in about $500,000 to clean up toxic residue and the city of San Jose partnered with a developer to create a four-story complex, one of San Jose's newest affordable housing units.
Sally Baker lives in one of the units. She's a full-time student and her husband is a Gulf War veteran. They are paying $950 a month for a beautiful one-bedroom apartment. "Housing is such a issue these days that it is very hard to find these opportunities, so I'm very grateful to have this opportunity," she said.
The Orvieto project has 92 units. Every single one is taken and there is a waiting list of 500 applicants. The developer says the project created 150 jobs and would not have been possible without a substantial amount of redevelopment money. "28 million project, approximately $10.5 million of it was made up of local city of San Jose redevelopment financing. So without it, there's no way the project would have became a reality," explained Roem Corporation Vice President Jonathan Emami. That's why Friday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for the complex was bittersweet. It represented the end of an era.
Earlier this year, the cash-strapped state did away with redevelopment funding and many say that will have a dramatic impact on future affordable housing. "We really want to be able to help more people and so, I think the real challenge here is what do about the loss of redevelopment agency funding and how do we keep building more housing here in San Jose," said Eden Housing Executive Director Linda Mandolini.
Lawmakers in Sacramento are working on some kind of replacement financing source but until then, the 150 affordable units planned for seniors on a different property is stalled. Sally Baker says she's grateful her complex was built. "I feel so comfortable coming home at night and closing my door and going to sleep. I know that I'm safe. I know that I'm OK," she said.
Many cities across the state relied on that redevelopment money to build similar projects. In San Jose, the city successfully built about 1,000 new affordable housing units each year.