The Silicon Valley Voice

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Residents of Belovida Santa Clara Senior Apartments Air Concerns

Residents at Belovida Santa Clara Senior Apartments, 1820 Main Street, aired their concerns regarding the apartment building at a resident meeting March 18. The meeting was hosted by Charities Housing (www.charitieshousing.org), which manages the 28-unit, affordable rental housing development for seniors 62 and older.

The attractive, three-story building, nestled in a neighborhood of modest, single family homes, was completed in October 2009. The city of Santa Clara extended a 55-year, $4.95 million loan to The CORE Companies to construct the building.

About 12 residents—including three in wheelchairs, management representatives, and others attended the meeting. Those residents who spoke up, expressed frustration at what they say has been a slow struggle to add reasonable building accommodations to make day-to-day living easier and safer, particularly for seniors with disabilities.

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“Management has provided a number of accommodations, at our cost,” writes Cynthia Alvarez, Director of Property Management for Charities Housing, in an e-mail.

“To date (4/7/11), we have installed grab bars in 8 apartments, bathtub seats in 3 apartments; lowered peepholes in 4 apartments; removed bathroom and kitchen sink cabinets in 4 apartments; installed an automatic door opener at our Main Street entrance; obtained a permit for the white loading zone on Main Street; installed shorter trash cans on the 1st floor; worked with developer to install new mailboxes that would provide better reach to our residents; installed two higher toilets; adjusted the door resistance throughout common areas to under 5 lbs; installed longer wands for window blinds; raised outlets in rooms and in common areas; installed handrails down the halls and on the stairs leading to the main entry. Management has not turned down a single request for grab bars,” writes Alvarez.

Dixie Baus, Director of Affordable Housing for The CORE Companies, says that Belovida Santa Clara is not an assisted living building; it is an independent senior living facility. Three units initially were built to accommodate seniors with disabilities, but an additional three units with special accommodations were needed.

Making accommodations is something that the renters can be granted permission to do at their expense. However, thus far, residents have either gotten financial aid from the city, or Charities Housing has paid for the accommodations. Two units still await modification.

“As built, the [Belovida Senior Apartments] complied with state building codes, but [in the case of future building projects] we may have to look at additional considerations to better accommodate the senior residents,” says project manager Jeff Pedersen, Santa Clara Housing and Community Services Division Manager.

“[Other] issues brought up at Belovida’s resident meeting were typical of issues that come up in the normal course of business in property management. We scheduled this meeting because we want to encourage residents to have a medium where they can come together and share their concerns and get updates on what we are doing,” writes Alvarez.

“We recognize the shortcomings of the [Belovida Senior Apartments] building, and the corrections are not yet complete. The corrections go beyond what the residents have brought to our attention,” says Baus.

“It’s lovely to live here. I have no complaints at all,” says Beverly Bond, one of the 38 Belovida residents. Residents Michael Kang and Joaquin Murillo echo her comments.

Barbara Stahl also likes living at Belovida. However, her apartment had to be modified to accommodate her wheelchair after she moved in, and she feels that the process was unnecessarily complicated. She hopes in the future that management will “be more sensitive to the needs of the seniors.”

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The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc.

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