CARLSBAD — Residents in the Barrio neighborhood are hoping to reverse a controversial housing project that continues to move forward.
The Windsor Pointe project by Affirmed Housing, a San Diego-based real estate developer, was approved several weeks ago by the Carlsbad City Council, although some residents in the area voiced their anger and displeasure with the development.
The city committed $8 million to the $31-million project, which will allow severely mentally ill individuals housing despite the project initially being sold for homeless veterans.
The funds allocated are tied to veterans housing, but Affirmed Housing went through the No Place Like Home program, a state-run project created in 2016 to provide up to $2 billion in bond proceeds to invest in the development of permanent supportive rental housing for homeless individuals living with serious mental illness.
The Windsor Pointe project is a 50-unit development to be constructed at 3606-3618 and 3630 Harding Street and 965-967 Oak Avenue.
But since the project was given approval, residents are hoping the council will bring back the item to address their concerns, which include using veteran-specific funds for a non-veteran project and a potential Brown Act violation. If the council does not act, resident Denis Jensen, said he and his neighbors may file a lawsuit to try and stop the project.
Residents have retained attorney Everett Delano, who said his in the exploratory phase of reviewing the case. He said there may be several avenues to challenge the city’s decision but declined specifics as a matter of attorney-client privilege.
“They’ve gotten these monies to build certain things, while they decided to use it for something else,” Delano said, also referring to another case several years ago in San Diego. “It’s not what you were intending it for. It’s not what the approval was for.”
Delano said it may be possible for Affirmed Housing to show how the money is being used for veterans and other funds for mentally ill residents. Still, he and the residents are keeping a watchful eye on the project as it moves forward.
Jensen, though, pointed to policies in New York City and other cities where severely mentally ill people have been residing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In those cities, residents and hotels have endured a number of issues stemming from those housing situations without proper services or regulations.
Residents at Windsor Pointe will not be required or subjected to enforcement due to fair housing laws. Even those with substance abuse problems will not be tested, Jensen said.
He also directed his ire toward Affirmed Housing, which has come under fire for questionable ethics probes for projects linked to Civic San Diego board member Phil Rath, who did not disclose nor recuse himself from a vote to recommend Affirmed Housing for a large project in San Diego in 2018. Rath was fined $11,000.
Barrio resident Lara Benusis said she and others are worried about children and their exposure to people with severe mental illnesses and drug addictions. Benusis said the area with Pine Avenue Park is already home to dozens of homeless and mentally ill people.
“The window dressing is it’s being called a homeless shelter for veterans and their families,” Benusis said. “There is a lot of wasteful spending that does occur … especially when there’s not the oversight.”