Archive for the ‘News Stories’ Category

Happy Homebuyer Hour

March 1st, 2015


Happy Homebuyer House Hillcrest


Learn about CHW’s one-stop homebuying shop at our Happy Homebuyer Hour at Wine Steals! Appetizers and first drink on us. Please RSVP below.

Happy Homebuyer Hour

HHH_webAre you thinking about buying a home but wondering how to get started? CHW is a one-stop-shop for homebuying, providing classes, realty and lending services to help you reach your homeownership goal. Join CHW and our homebuying experts on Thursday, March 12th from 6-7 PM at Wine Steals in Hillcrest to learn more about how to buy your first home. Appetizers and first drinks are on us! 

Invest in your future and your community. As a nonprofit organization, we reinvest into community programs like afterschool tutoringfinancial literacy, and neighborhood revitalization. So when you work with us, you're also making a difference in your community.

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Proud Mom, Proud Homeowner

February 10th, 2015


“Home is my favorite place…It’s a place to build your roots and come together as a family.”   - Victoria Valenzuela, First-time Homebuyer

A single mom with three small children, Victoria Valenzuela was faced with a critical housing situation. She was staying at her brother’s apartment with only one bed for her family of four to share. Victoria was highly motivated to find a new home and set out to do something about it.

In Spring 2013, Ms. Valenzuela was introduced to Community HousingWorks’ (CHW’s) asset-building programs. She began by attending a Financial Fitness class where she learned how to save money and where to go for financial help. During the class, Victoria explored her goals and created an action plan for achieving her dream of buying a home.

Victoria explains, “I always had a hope, and it was really more like a dream, of owning a home. But I am a person that is persistent, that works and fights for what I want. I said to myself, I am going to try. I ended up working with CHW to know what I needed to do to purchase my home and to keep fighting.”

After taking the Financial Fitness class, Ms. Valenzuela realized that her homeownership goal was attainable. During the class, she created an action plan that would help her reach her goal and received the tools she could use to get her there. Shortly after the class, Victoria spoke with a CHW financial coach about her next steps. Her coach recommended CHW’s Homebuyer Class, where Victoria learned the steps she needed to take to purchase a home. She found out that she would need to save $15,000 to afford her first home.

Victoria_house_3_editedWith the motivation that she could achieve her homeownership dream, Victoria began saving as much as she could to reach her goal. As a maintenance manager for a housing organization, Victoria maximized her income by cutting out any extra expenses and managing her money wisely using some ideas she learned in the Financial Fitness class. She also saved her large tax return and was able to save on rent costs each month. Just nine months later and with $15,000 in the bank for a down payment, Victoria met with a housing coach for a pre-purchase session. Discovering some minor errors on her credit report, Victoria worked with her coach to write letters to the bureaus and creditors to have them resolved. One month later, the errors were corrected and she was ready to get pre-approved for a home loan!

In Spring 2014, Ms. Valenzuela worked with the CHW Lending and Realty teams to obtain an affordable mortgage and find the right home for her family. She and her family moved into a beautiful, single-family home located near a family-friendly park in Logan Heights. Victoria says, “When I received the keys to my house I felt a lot of emotion in my heart. It was a kind of joy that almost made me cry. It seemed like a dream come true. I said, thank you God, finally you have helped us purchase our own home.”

New 3% Down Payment Loan from Fannie Mae

January 14th, 2015

home_signLower Down Payments Help More Families Afford Homeownership

Have you been thinking about buying a home but you just can’t seem to save up the 20% down payment that many conventional loans require? You’re not alone! Many first-time buyers do not have large amounts of cash to spend on a down payment even though they have a stable job with good income.

Now, first-time buyers anxious for homeownership have a new option. Fannie Mae has recently announced a new loan product that only requires 3% down. For a home costing $350,000, that is still a $10,500 down payment, but this amount is far more manageable than the $70,000 down payment that would be needed if 20% down were required on that same home! According to the Federal Reserve, 45% of renters delayed buying a home because they could not afford the down payment. A lower down payment requirement would allow for more buyers to purchase their first home.

These loans, like most others, require buyers to be eligible based on verified income, debt and credit scores, among other factors. Additionally, at least one of the co-borrowers must be a first-time homebuyer. The loan product will also require private mortgage insurance, which is paid monthly with the mortgage until the buyers have paid down 20% of their loan.

Fannie Mae sees this new loan product as “a responsible option for qualified borrowers.” It allows creditworthy borrowers to access credit and receive a loan while interest rates are still at historically low levels (the U.S average mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed loan is just under 4% at the moment). Though Fannie Mae doesn’t think this will fix all the problems surrounding access to credit that currently exist, it is one step in the right direction!

2015 is looking like a great year to buy a home for other reasons as well. After home prices grew at a fairly rapid pace in both 2012 and 2013, prices have been a bit steadier, rising at a much slower pace in 2014 and this trend is expected to continue into 2015. In addition to steadier home prices, renting is getting more expensive and the vacancy rate is at an all-time low in many areas of the country. As rents increase, the cost of homeownership begins to be less expensive than renting and a better investment of your money.

To get started towards buying a home, review our 5 steps to homeownership or take a Homebuyer Class.

Financial Coaching: Changing a Legacy

January 12th, 2015


This New Year’s Eve, the Tatum family made goals together, motivated to start the new year on the right foot. Instead of making the usual New Year’s resolutions, they made tangible goals together as a family to work towards becoming debt-free and purchasing a home in 2017.

After difficulty making rent payments last year, Alonzo and Tomika connected to the Virtual Counselor Network to get their finances back on track. With a family of six, the VCN made it easier for Alonzo and Tomika to connect with a financial coach, from right at home using online video chat technology.

With the support of a CHW financial coach, the Tatums began changing the way they were saving and spending their money. Alonzo says, “What’s changed the most is really our mindset, being conscious of our budget and accountable to our coach.” Alonzo and Tomika were able to pay their past due in the same month and promptly joined the Financial Health Club afterwards.

The Tatums meet with their coach, Jesse, on a consistent monthly basis to check in on progress towards their goals. Tomika says, “It has motivated us and prepared us to be accountable every month.” At their last session, the family checked in on accomplishments and challenges for the month and discussed ways to reduce spending. They made a plan to create a Vision Board with their family to ensure they are all committed to their savings goals.

AlonzoSince working with a coach, Alonzo and Tomika have made significant strides toward their goals. They are now keeping a monthly budget and working together to find ways to reduce their spending. They’ve started repairing their credit using some letters their coach recommended to send to fix errors on their report.

Coaching has also impacted their family in positive ways. The Tatums have recognized a difference in their family’s attitudes towards money.

“We believe this is going to change our family’s legacy. We’ve involved our kids so that they can avoid the same pitfalls in their lives. Now they have vengeance against debt!” says Alonzo.

“I am really impressed with their motivation and truly believe that they will reach their stated goal, which is to become debt-free and purchase a home by 2017,” explains Jesse, financial coach.

The Tatum family plans to continue working with their financial coach throughout 2015, meeting on a monthly basis and regularly checking in on their progress. In order to reach their goals of becoming debt-free and purchasing a home, they have committed to repairing their credit and increasing their savings. In two months, they will have paid off their payday loan debt, allowing for a surplus in their budget and a chance to increase their savings. Before their next coaching session, they’ve committed to writing and sending letters to creditors in order to improve their credit. They have also signed up for the Financial Fitness class and plan to attend a Homebuyer Class later this year. In addition, in order to increase their monthly savings, they have planned to enroll in SDGE’s Level Pay program.

By strengthening their monthly budget, increasing their savings and improving their credit, the Tatum family will be in the best position possible when they go to apply for a home loan in the near future.

Learn more about the Virtual Counselor Network

CHW Affordable Senior Housing to be LGBT Affirmative

December 11th, 2014

CHW-Logo-Final  SDLGBT-small


CHW and The Center seek approval for proposed affordable housing in North Park


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SAN DIEGO – Dec. 11, 2014 – San Diego nonprofit, Community HousingWorks (CHW), presents its Arizona Street Development to the San Diego Planning Commission on Thursday, December 18th. The proposed development features a 76-home senior apartment building on the northwest corner of Texas Street and Howard Avenue and a 118-home multifamily building on the northeast corner. The proposal has already generated significant support from North Park residents and the official North Park Planning Committee voted overwhelmingly to support approval of the development.

CHW is partnering with the San Diego LGBT Community Center (“The Center”) in order to design the senior apartments as an affirming and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors that includes universal design features to allow seniors to stay in their homes as they age.

While the senior apartments will be open to all who meet the age and income requirements, the LGBT-affirming complex is specifically meant to address a 2011 community needs assessment led by The Center that found LGBT-seniors’ highest concerns included fears of increasing social isolation, lack of access to culturally competent health and social services, financial concerns, and lack of access to safe, affordable, and affirming housing options. Sue Reynolds, CHW’s president and CEO, explains, “Our mission is to provide housing that meets the unique needs of each community, and this has been identified as one of the primary needs in the areas of North Park and Uptown.” The Center’s Senior Services staff will also provide services welcoming to the entire senior community to foster an active senior lifestyle. “We’re very enthusiastic about this collaborative project,” says Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO, The Center. “LGBT seniors have very few options for affirming and supportive housing – and for our low-income seniors, the situation is even more difficult. This development provides a significant step in the direction of making sure LGBT seniors in San Diego can live with dignity. The fact that it’s a CHW development makes it even more exciting, as it gives us full confidence that it will be a safe, supportive, well-planned community that anyone would be proud to call home.”

The Arizona Street Development has received a prestigious endorsement from the MOVE Alliance, which recognizes developments that provide “Mobility Options Viable for Everyone.” The optimal location is only feet away from the new MTS Mid-City Rapid Bus, and with the North Park–Mid-City Regional Bike Corridor project underway, the development will have a regional bike corridor just out the front door on Howard Avenue, allowing residents to have increased access to the great amenities North Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have to offer. Both buildings will feature bike parking and repair space and encourage an active lifestyle with multiple options for getting around the neighborhood.

The community is also strongly in support. “CHW has proven itself to be a high-quality developer with its Kalos community on Florida Street,” explains Vicki Granowitz, Chair of the North Park Planning Committee. “Our committee overwhelmingly supported the proposed development. We like that it brings well-designed new housing options to our community, and also provides for seniors on limited incomes.” The proposed design provides a large open plaza at the northeast corner of Texas and Howard and significantly enhances the pedestrian experience along Texas Street. Building frontages on Howard Avenue and Arizona Street were designed to have a residential feel that complemented the existing residential uses on the opposite side of the street.

The development uses an affordable housing density bonus to help make the affordable development feasible. “With the loss of Redevelopment Agency funding in California, resources for affordable housing are very limited,” explains CHW vice president, Dave Gatzke, “so I’m thrilled that this mixed-income approach allows us to bring both high-quality market rate development to North Park and offset the gap in funding we have in building affordable housing.” Under the density bonus program, 23 of the senior apartments will be restricted to very low income households earning 50% or less of the county’s median income. CHW’s intent is to find additional funding sources and to break ground in 2016 with all 76 of the apartments to be affordable.

The City of San Diego Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing to review the development at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 18th, and will make a recommendation to the City Council for its approval in January. Once the proposed development is approved by the Council, CHW can seek an allocation of low income housing tax credits, which will be instrumental to finance the development of all 76 senior apartments as affordable. As CHW’s senior vice president of real estate, Anne Wilson, explains, “Tax credits are allocated twice a year, and demand far outstrips supply. We believe this is a great development and are working diligently to make it a reality as soon as possible.”

About Community HousingWorks

Founded in 1982, Community HousingWorks (CHW) is a nationally-recognized 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people and communities move up in the world through opportunities to own, rent, and achieve. CHW has a successful history over more than 30 years developing multi-family, affordable rental apartments and rehabilitating single-family homes for resale in urban, suburban and rural communities across Southern California.  CHW has developed over 1,800 rental apartments in 32 communities, each designed to be healthy and vibrant communities that improve their neighborhoods and offer residents an array of programs to help them achieve their individual and family goals. CHW’s comprehensive programs serve more than 8,000 children and adults each year. CHW is San Diego County’s only member of the national NeighborWorks Network® and an award-winning affiliate of the National Council of La Raza. Learn more at

About the Center

The San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, Inc. (The Center) is the nation’s second oldest and one of the largest LGBT community centers. Functioning as the San Diego LGBT community’s anchor organization, The Center is led by a 13-member board of directors, employs over 40 paid staff and utilizes more than 800 community volunteers to achieve its twin goals of promoting LGBT health and human rights. The Center provides direct program services to the many different facets of the LGBT community, including youth, seniors, families, LGBT Latino community members and their families, and those struggling with HIV. Last year, The Center provided more than 61,000 service visits to San Diego community members, and through its events, activities and advocacy, touched the lives of thousands more.

The Center’s 2011 community needs assessment, LGBT San Diego’s Trailblazing Generation, can be found at:



Access full-resolution artist rendering by Joe Cordelle. Architecture by Rodriguez + Associates Architects and Planners


Ready for Kinder!

September 17th, 2014


Ready for Kinder!

“By the time she turns three years old, a child born into a low-income home hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a well-off family, which means by the times she starts school, she’s already behind.”
President Barak Obama, December 4, 2013 speech

When a child starts school for the first time, it is the best moment to capture their attention and help them love reading. Now in its second year, Community HousingWorks (CHW)’s Ready for Kinder program starts 80 to over 130 economically-disadvantaged kindergarteners each year on the path to school success. At Ready for Kinder, we connect families and children to our Learning Centers and our Running Readers program, which can support the children in reading through the third grade, a critical year for children to attain grade level reading proficiency for continued success through middle school, high school, and beyond.

As President Obama notes above, economically disadvantaged children may start school with a significant learning gap. To help close this gap, we invite every family with a child entering kindergarten living in our apartment home communities for families of limited means to come to one of our 17 community Learning Centers and learn about the importance of reading and how to prepare for school.

We give the parents a 10 page Kindergarten Reading Readiness Parent Toolkit, which includes tips for how to help their child get ready for the first day of kindergarten, as well as short activities for a different learning subject for each day of the week that parents can do with their kindergartener to help them learn. We link the parents to important community resources. Most exciting for the children, we give each kindergartener a new backpack, stuffed with all the supplies needed to get a good start at school—a pencil box, pencils, erasers, crayons, scissors, a journal, phonics and sight word flashcards, math activities—as well as their own bilingual book.

At Ready for Kinder, we also tell the parents about our Learning Centers and Running Reader program—a free afterschool reading program that can provide small-group coaching sessions twice a week for their Kindergarteners through the third grade to help them read at grade level.

Through Ready for Kinder, CHW gives each economically disadvantaged kindergartener in our affordable apartment home communities a strong start and support toward a love of reading and a lifetime of achievement and success.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities to support our after-school programs

National CORE & CHW break ground on Mission Cove community, Oceanside

August 7th, 2014

Mission Cove Rendering

National Community Renaissance (CORE) and Community HousingWorks (CHW) celebrated the groundbreaking of the highly anticipated Mission Cove affordable housing community for families, seniors, veterans and transitional age youth.

The Mission Cove Affordable Housing Mixed-Use Development will generate over 300 jobs during the full construction period and build out. Additionally, over 90 fulltime on and off-site jobs will be created by this 288 apartment home development with 10,400 sq.ft. of retail. Approximately $5.4M over the total development period will be paid to the City and school districts. Over $25M in local income, taxes and other revenue will be produced during development construction build out. Over $7M in local income, taxes and other revenue will occur annually after lease-up.

“Not only will Mission Cove provide quality affordable housing for families, seniors, returning and aging veterans, and transitional age youth, it will give a boost to the local economy during construction and after lease-up of the apartment homes,” said Margery Pierce, Neighborhood Services Director for the City of Oceanside.

The first phase will consist of site preparation of the 14.5 acre city-owned land including on and off-site infrastructure.. The second phase, to be developed and owned by NationalCORE, will be 90 apartment homes for families, veterans, transitional age youth and seniors along with 10,400 sqft of retail space and the Kay Parker Family Resource Center. The third phase, to be developed and owned by CHW, will be 138 apartments for seniors and veterans, including adult day care, senior resident services facilities, and a resident organic garden. The final phase, to be developed and owned by CORE, will include 60 homes for families, seniors and veterans. The master plan for the community includes universal design, and energy and water sustainability.

CORE and CHW have worked closely with the city of Oceanside to design and fulfill the City Council approved Vision Plan.

John Seymour, Vice-President of National CORE, said Mission Cove is in keeping with the nonprofit developer’s mission to transform lives and communities.

“We’re proud of our partnership with the City of Oceanside and CHW in being able to fulfill the city’s vision to create a viable, mixed-use affordable housing development that is an asset to the community,” Seymour said.

“CHW and our partner, CORE, commend the city’s leadership in addressing the need for affordable homes by North County families and individuals of all ages. The city’s investment in this intergenerational master plan community will leverage more than $75 million from other sources – creating jobs and investment within Oceanside. This is truly a sustainable community in every sense of the word”, said Sue Reynolds, President and CEO of Community HousingWorks.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 12, 10-11 a.m.
WHERE: Corner of Mission Avenue and Roymar Road, Oceanside.
(Please use the area south of Mission Avenue near Roymar Road for parking)
Refreshments will be served



National Community Renaissance is one of the largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing, with nearly 9,000 units across four states. Over its 22-year history, CORE has received national recognition for its innovation and meshing of quality, affordable housing with transformational social services through its Hope through Housing subsidiary. For more on CORE, please visit


Founded in 1982, Community HousingWorks (CHW) is a nationally-recognized 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people and communities move up in the world through opportunities to own, rent, and achieve. CHW has a successful 30-year history developing multi-family, affordable rental apartments and rehabilitating single-family homes for resale in urban, suburban and rural communities in Southern California. We have developed close to 1,700 apartments in 31 communities. CHW’s apartment homes are designed to be healthy and vibrant communities that improve their neighborhoods, offering residents an array of programs to help them move up. Through our comprehensive programs, we proudly serve more than 8,000 children and adults each year. CHW is San Diego County’s only member of the national NeighborWorks Network® and an award-winning affiliate of the National Council of La Raza.


John Seymour, Vice President, National Community Renaissance
(619) 223-9222,
Anne B. Wilson, Sr. Vice President, Community HousingWorks
(619) 450-8709,

Introducing E-asy Account

July 21st, 2014

Group shot cropped

Thanks to Citi Community Development’s support of a $200,000 grant, CHW is now able to introduce a smart new technology solution for our financial coaching program: E-asy Account.

Easy account diagram

E-asy Account is a virtual bridge connecting consumer financial information aggregated by with the data tracking systems used by financial experts at participating nonprofit organizations. This helps eliminate the paper chase and streamline data collection for nonprofits.

With the sophisticated tools of plus the one-on-one support of a financial expert, E-asy Account users set realistic financial goals and stay motivated towards achieving them. Nonprofit providers will also see staff productivity rise, saving thousands of staff hours yearly and allowing them to help more people.

Thank you, Citi Community Development, for your support!

CHW is Key Player in Achievement of Obama’s Affordable Housing Solar Energy Goal

May 9th, 2014
CHW Parkview Terrace Aerial solar panels

Parkview Terrace, an affordable rental community developed by CHW in Poway, California. Solar panels from Everyday Energy.

CHW and Everyday Energy will add 3.5 megawatts of on site solar across a total of 22 sites

SAN DIEGO – May 9, 2014 – In an announcement released this morning by the White House in advance of President Barack Obama’s appearance at a renewable energy event in California, Community HousingWorks (CHW) was cited as a key player in achieving the Obama Administration’s goal of providing 100 megawatts for publicly supported housing by 2020.

CHW, a San Diego-based, nonprofit affordable housing developer, is on its way to producing 3.5 megawatts of solar power in its affordable rental communities. Working with their solar energy partner, Everyday Energy, the nation’s leader in financing, designing and installing solar systems for multifamily affordable housing communities, CHW has already installed over a full megawatt of power through photovoltaic and has also installed domestic solar hot water solar systems in 11 apartment communities throughout San Diego County.

This innovative developer is currently working to install new solar systems at 22 additional affordable rental communities. A large portion of the savings will go to lowering utility costs for 1,100 lower income working families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes. As San Diego’s utilities increase, on average, at 6 percent or more each year, these savings are especially important.

“The multifamily affordable housing segment continues to be the most promising market in the United States for solar power,” said Scott Sarem, chief executive officer, Everyday Energy. “In California, we’ve found that when compared to single family affordable housing, multifamily solar projects not only reduce energy costs for a significantly higher number of people, but have greater scalability resulting in much lower acquisition cost than single family solar programs.”

“Our commitment to sustainability runs deep,” says Anne Wilson, senior vice president of housing and real estate development, CHW. “We hold the distinction of developing SOLARA, the first apartment community in the California to be fully powered by the sun. Everyday Energy’s in-depth understanding of affordable housing has made these solar installations feasible both for new construction properties and those in operation.”

The reduction to carbon footprint from these efforts is calculated at an average of 43 percent lower emissions. The 11 CHW communities with domestic solar hot water systems offset more than 56,000 therms each year, supplying hot water to 716 residential units, reducing total therm consumption by an average of 46 percent. This is the equivalent to planting more than 7,000 trees, or eliminating 25,360,000 miles driven by cars. CHW recently installed a shallow, air-driven geothermal system in its Escondido, California property, Avocado Court, home to families and formerly homeless, disabled veterans. This unique system, which is the first of its kind in the United States, eliminates the need for air conditioning in the community space, greatly reducing the total energy consumption of the building.


About Community HousingWorks

Founded in 1982, Community HousingWorks (CHW) is a nationally-recognized 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people and communities move up in the world through opportunities to own, rent, and achieve. CHW has a successful 30-year history developing multi-family, affordable rental apartments and rehabilitating single-family homes for resale in urban, suburban and rural communities in Southern California. We have developed close to 1,700 apartments in 31 communities. CHW’s apartment homes are designed to be healthy and vibrant communities that improve their neighborhoods, offering residents an array of programs to help them move up. Through our comprehensive programs, we proudly serve more than 8,000 children and adults each year. CHW is San Diego County’s only member of the national NeighborWorks Network® and an award-winning affiliate of the National Council of La Raza. Learn more at


About Everyday Energy

Everyday Energy finances, designs and installs solar energy systems for multifamily affordable housing and trains and hires veterans and affordable housing residents to help them begin careers in solar energy. Everyday Energy creates financial scenarios that allow customers to install solar at little to no out of pocket expense. Headquartered in Carlsbad, CA, Everyday Energy is responsible for creating over six megawatts of solar energy throughout the state. For more information, visit or call 760-607-7200.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy: Community HousingWorks.

Download the high-res photo using this link. No password required:

Fact Sheet from President Obama Announces Commitments and Executive Actions to Advance Solar Deployment and Energy Efficiency (Community HousingWorks is listed under “Private and Public Sector Commitments”)

For more information, please contact us.

CHW Receives Top Honors from U.S. Green Building Council

May 7th, 2014


The U.S.G.B.C LEED for Homes Awards recognizes projects, developers and homebuilders that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in residential green building.

Kalos provides 83 vibrant new affordable workforce homes in a smart growth/sustainable setting. The LEED Platinum midrise development sensitively added density and locked in long-term affordability in a built-out, rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. The LEED elements exceed local and national standards in energy efficiency and green construction values, with more than 50 percent reductions in water, more than 70 percent reduction in gas and electrical use, along with car sharing and electric car charging stations. On-site tenant education spreads awareness of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle through smoke-free operations, recycling programs and promotion of alternative transportation.

“We’re glad that our partners at U.S.G.B.C. and the Home Depot provided a grant to offset the extra documentation cost of the LEED program, and are proud to be recognized nationally for the groundbreaking work CHW has been doing for years in the field of sustainability,” says Anne Wilson, senior vice president, housing & real estate development, CHW. “With rebates and incentives, every green system or material we installed pays off in less than 10 years,” said Sylvia Martinez, senior project manager, CHW.

For a complete list of winners, visit the U.S.G.B.C. website.

Learn more about Kalos.

alley view