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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Veterans’ Subdivision Marches to Completion

Finishing touches are being added over the next few weeks to an innovative Santa Clarita subdivision that will provide housing and support services to 78 low-income veterans and their families. The Habitat for Heroes tract has been under construction for two years on an 8-acre parcel at Centre Pointe Parkway and Golden Valley Road, next to Bowman High School. On July 18, the keys to the first 26 houses will be handed over to the qualifying veterans and their families. The development is a joint venture of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys Inc., which raised the construction funding, and the city of Santa Clarita, which donated the land. The state provided $21 million in funding, led by the Veterans Affairs agency, which also chose the veterans. Habitat for Humanity coordinated the sweat equity of more than 5,500 volunteers, while 60 businesses donated money and building materials to the project. “Homeownership is a vital resource that can be leveraged along with wrap-around services to move today’s veterans into the middle class, creating tomorrow’s civic leaders,” said Donna E. Deutchman, chief executive of Habitat’s local office. She said this project is the first of its kind nationally to be built by Habitat volunteers. The neighborhood consists of three- and four-bedroom houses, a playground and a community garden where families can grow vegetables. The houses will be priced at $286,000, well below market value. The median price of a Santa Clarita Valley home was $500,000 in April, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. Paul Sullivan, deputy communications secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs, said about 220 veterans applied to live in the community after it was announced two years ago. Those who were chosen on a first-come, first-served basis were required to qualify for a mortgage under the state’s CalVet Home loan program, complete self-sufficiency training courses and put 500 hours of sweat equity (350 for a single-parent family) into the home building effort, he said. The veteran’s loan program does not require applicants meet a minimum credit score, a common hurdle on standard mortgage applications that disqualifies many individuals who have struggled financially. “We manually underwrite all our loans using common sense guidelines. We review the veteran’s entire set of financial circumstances to determine credit worthiness, with an understanding that things may have happened to cause a lower credit score that were beyond the veteran’s control,” Sullivan said. Along with shelter, the new homeowners will get services such as post-traumatic stress counseling, art workshops for trauma victims and financial literacy training. The second phase of the project, consisting of 28 houses, should be finished this December, with the remaining units ready for occupancy by next spring. The project is the second in the state’s plan to provide permanent housing in a neighborhood context to low-income vets and their families. The first neighborhood, consisting of a dozen homes, was completed last year in Sylmar. Similar projects are proposed in Palmdale, Riverside and Jurupa Valley. Expanded Presence The greater Los Angeles area Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has opened a regional center in Oxnard, taking 4,800 square feet in the Morgan Stanley building at 300 E. Esplanade Drive. The new office, which will take up half of the 16th floor of the 22-story high-rise, will house the brokerage’s Ventura County regional sales center, said Robert K. Foster, president and chief operating officer. The lease represents the agency’s plans to expand Coldwell Banker’s footprint in Ventura County. “This office will operate more as a hub location servicing multiple markets, including but not limited to Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo,” he said. The office design maximizes the building’s spectacular ocean views, which are visible from agents’ private offices and the main bullpen area, Foster said. It will house between 40 and 50 agents and support staff. The brokerage will maintain its two existing offices in Oxnard and its current office in Ventura. Long-time Oxnard broker Jorge DeLeon will head up the new operation. Staff Reporter Karen E. Klein can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or at kklein@afvbj.com.

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