Bee Investigator: Apartments for former foster kids ready; why isn’t anyone there?

04/06/2014 4:16 PM

04/06/2014 9:06 PM

Two people asked about the apartments on East Coolidge Avenue in Modesto. That’s the complex that was built to house teens and young adults aging out of the foster care system, as well as other homeless youth.

“They look completed and completely empty for about a year now,” said Ruth Crabtree of Modesto. “I never see any tenants nor any cars or any other sign of occupancy. What’s up?”

“For many months, I drove by and watched the progress of the new apartment complex,” said Bobbie Young of Modesto. “I knew they were for foster kids that were being aged out of the system, so I was excited when they were completed; we could all watch our tax dollars at work to fill this big void in our system. It has now sat vacant for months. What is the delay? Seems like such a waste.”

The Modesto Bee ran a story last October saying the apartments were finished and would soon be occupied, but it turned out there were issues with fire alarms and other things, so the occupancy was delayed, said Bill Fagan, executive director of the Housing Authority of Stanislaus County, which is overseeing the project.

He said the first tenants would move in two weeks ago, with an additional six or seven renters approved to move in shortly, However, that, too, was optimistic. As of Friday, no one had yet moved in.

The landscaping is rooted and growing, the units have miniblinds in the windows, the toddler play structure looks inviting. But no one is there.

“I guess with the first of the month and them having to give notice and vacate properties, there were some issues there,” said Scott Fitzgerald, director of asset management for the housing authority, on Friday afternoon. “We do have three through the eligibility process (and are) just waiting for them to move in. An additional seven should be through the process very quickly. We’re also waiting for referrals from partnering agencies.”

The 32-unit complex, named Meadow Glen, is a few houses west of Elliott Alternative Education Center. It has 24 one-bedroom units and eight with two bedrooms. There also is a community center on site with comfy couches and other furniture where service providers can give support and resources to the renters, who must be 18 to 28 years old when they apply to rent, although they can stay until they are older, Fagan said.

“The idea behind this project is not just to give them housing, but also to give them services on site so they can go forward (with their lives), he said. “This is the first one in the Central Valley where we’ve set these units aside for this kind of program.”

The $6.372 million project was paid for from three sources, Fagan said: the Neighborhood Stabilization Program through the city of Modesto (funded by the federal government); Home Dollars, also a federal Housing and Urban Development program paid to the city of Modesto; and the county’s Housing Authority. “Those are all different sources that we use for development,” he said.

He said it’s taking some time to find tenants because most of the people who wanted to move in last fall have found other housing.

The tenants, who sign a yearlong lease, are “usually people who are getting services provided to them,” Fagan said. “We’re looking for the most part for those receiving vouchers or rental assistance. Most come from referring agencies. People can apply, but they have to provide evidence of being able to pay rent.”

Rents range from $475 for a one-bedroom unit to $575 for a two-bedroom. Eligibility requirements apply. For more information, go to the housing authority’s website at www.stancoha.org or call (209) 557-2047.

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