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Project Update: 1364 N. Towne Ave

A summary of a Nov. 2, 2023 article in the Claremont Courier by by Steven Felschundneff | Thank you to the Claremont Courier for permission. (You should subscribe to this excellent not-for-profit local news source. )

Developer preparing to build affordable apartments for veterans on Towne

The nation’s largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing has purchased a former church site in Claremont where it plans to build an apartment building for veterans, including some who are unhoused. Mercy Housing California purchased the former Solid Rock Church and plans to build a three-story building with 74 rental apartments on the 1.89-acre parcel. Mercy plans to begin construction in December 2025 and be done in fall 2027.

Mercy Housing purchases land

The land was purchased using money from Mercy Housing’s $47 million California Land Acquisition Fund, which was launched in 2022 to make the company more nimble in California’s highly competitive real estate market. The fund is financed through partnerships with large organizations such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo Bank, and the California Endowment.

The former church site is a deep rectangular lot directly behind the commercial development on Foothill Boulevard where Stater Bros. market is located. The 74 apartments will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, including one for the onsite manager. The structure will be on the south side of the property and will stretch nearly the entire depth of the parcel. The north side will include 78 parking spaces for a ratio of 1.1 spaces per residential unit. There will be separate age appropriate playgrounds, an open space with a meandering path, and a dog run.

Housing for veterans and their families

The units will be available to veterans and families where the veteran is the head of the household. Prospective tenants would need to earn between 30% and 60% of Los Angeles County’s area median income, which according to the latest figures from the state Department of Housing and Community Development is $98,200 per year. Tenants would also have to agree to background and credit checks and not have any misdemeanor convictions in the last three years or felony convictions in the previous four years. Anyone who is on the national sex offender registry would be rejected.

Maximum occupancy, according to Housing and Urban Development rules, are two people per bedroom plus one more person. So, a three-bedroom apartment could have seven occupants. If the veteran head of household dies then Mercy will help the family find new housing, but they cannot stay as tenants because they would no longer fit the building’s criteria, according to Bayley.

“A development qualifies for SB35 if it consists of 50% or more affordable housing, is in basic compliance with the Planning Code, and involves no demolition of housing units or a historic structure,” according to the FAQ Mercy published for the development.

Mercy Housing California is the largest regional division of Mercy Housing Incorporated, which was founded in the early 1980s by Sister Timothy Marie O’Roark, a member of Sisters of Mercy of Omaha. According to Mercy Housing’s website, the initial investment into the fledgling nonprofit was a $500,000 check from Sisters of Mercy Omaha. In California alone the company has 159 properties which provide affordable housing for 11,410 households. The company manages all of its properties through Mercy Housing Management Group which “is committed to providing quality property management services that reinforce the philosophy that all residents deserve respect dignity and a place to call home,” according to a news release.


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