The Coast News Group
Low-income housing
85 low-income homes open at the Villa Serena.
San Marcos

Affordable homes open in San Marcos

SAN MARCOS — National CORE, the city of San Marcos, the county of San Diego and their partners have completed reconstruction of 85 apartment homes at the Villa Serena affordable housing community that offer new amenities and one of the nation’s highest levels of energy-efficient design.

The reconstruction, celebrated with a grand opening on April 20, represents the first of two phases that will replace 136 apartments with 148 state-of-the-art homes through a partnership between local government and National CORE to improve the quality of living in the Richmar neighborhood.

“Villa Serena’s transformation represents more than 20 years of planning and preparing. National CORE is honored to be part of the collaborative efforts to bring new resources to the community – ultimately making Richmar a better place to raise a family,” National CORE President Michael Ruane said.

In 1997, National CORE acquired the 1970s era Lido-Imperial apartment complex – now one of five developments it has created in San Marcos and four in the Richmar neighborhood. Immediate changes boosted community safety while National CORE built a partnership to fund reconstruction.

Richmar has experienced a revival since the opening of the National CORE’s Paseo del Oro housing complex in 2004 along with city efforts to increase walkability, according to local media. The San Diego Association of Governments reports that San Marcos now has some of the lowest crime rates in the county. San Marcos was ranked the 25th safest city in California, according to FBI crime statistics and the 2020 U.S. Census.

“I am proud to support the reconstruction of Villa Serena, a true collaborative effort between National CORE, the City of San Marcos and the County of San Diego,” San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said. “This community represents a significant investment in safe and affordable housing for our residents and provides a platform for neighborhood stabilization. With the completion of the first phase of this two-phase transformation, we are one step closer to bringing beautiful apartments that our residents can be proud to call home.”

The first phase includes 85 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes for individuals and families earning less than 60% of the area median income. Eight homes are set aside for young adults aging out of the foster care system. Forty-seven of the homes have three bedrooms to better meet the needs of the family-centric neighborhood.

“The reopening of the Villa Serena housing community further demonstrates the City’s efforts in prioritizing safe and adequate housing for all resident types, regardless of financial hardship,” San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones said. “Through revitalizing Villa Serena, the City offers a helping hand to San Marcos residents in an effort to combat the current affordable housing crisis and hopes to do so for many other communities in the future.

“As an advocate for San Marcos residents, I want all residents to find a place in our City to call home where worries of unlivable conditions and cost do not impact their life. I am extremely grateful for the collaborative work between the City, the County of San Diego, Wells Fargo Bank and California Community Reinvestment to make this mission possible to improve the lives of our San Marcos community members.”

The new Villa Serena is also anticipated to receive a LEED for Homes certification at the gold level or better.

Amenities include a 1,933-square-foot community center, a community kitchen, computer lab, outdoor play areas and an outdoor gathering space with seating.

“When it comes to ensuring the health and safety of North County neighbors, affordable housing coupled with onsite services remains one of the most crucial components,” Director of Housing and Community Development Services for the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency David Estrella said. “With programs like the County of San Diego Innovative Housing Trust Fund we are continuing to bring folks into permanent affordable homes, to help maintain stable housing, and to allow residents the opportunity to thrive.”

Because stable housing is only one part of the solution, the Hope through Housing Foundation provides direct services to Villa Serena residents. Hope through Housing will help children and teens achieve success, improve families’ financial well-being and promote health and wellness for residents of all ages. A partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos gives residents access to neighborhood after-school programs and a state-of-the-art 6,000-square-foot clubhouse within walking distance at Westlake Village.

Construction on the second phase, which will provide 63 more apartment homes, is anticipated to begin early next year. Once the development is completed, National CORE will provide a total of 680 apartment homes in five affordable communities in San Marcos.


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