Increasing Demand for Affordable Senior Housing Project in California

Increasing Demand for Affordable Senior Housing Project in California

Metro East Senior Park Apartments is an affordable senior housing community in Santa Ana, California. (CoStar)

Ed Cadavona, partner at AO Architects, just completed a specific kind of housing project that’s coming across his desk more often: affordable senior housing.

Cadavona was part of a team that designed the Metro East Senior Park Apartments, a 419-unit complex at 2222 E. First St. in Santa Ana, California, that is meant to cater to adults ages 55 and older who earn between 50% and 60% of the area median income. 

It’s one of several affordable housing projects Cadavona’s firm has designed in recent months, he said. 

“We’ve been seeing an increase,” Cadavona told Costar News about affordable senior projects in an interview. “Housing has been busy for us. We don’t turn down anything.”

The company recently designed 1st and Rosemary in San Jose, California, and Garden Brook Senior Village in Garden Grove, California. Others include Oakland Station Senior, a 324-unit project at 10550 International Blvd. in Oakland, California, that opened this year.

Cadavona estimated that around 25% of the firm’s existing projects are affordable senior housing developments, which he said was an increase from years past.

The growing demand seems to reflect two of the biggest social and demographic trends affecting housing: the rapidly growing share of Americans who are seniors and the nation’s housing affordability crisis.

Roughly 16.3% of the U.S. population is 65 or older, up from 12.4% in 2000, according to data from the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research firm. By 2040, that figure is projected to increase to 20.4%, according to the data, and older Americans are also living longer than they used to, which creates the need for a robust amount of high-quality senior housing.

Meanwhile, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that the United States is facing an affordable housing shortage of more than 7.2 million units. The average apartment rent in the United States increased to $1,401 per unit in the first quarter of 2021 compared to $1,079 per month in the first quarter of 2011, according to CoStar research.

Further, only around 36% of renters over the age of 62 who qualify for federal rental assistance actually receive the assistance, according to an article published by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging. By that metric, roughly 5 million very low-income seniors are expected to be without housing assistance by 2035, according to the publication.

In Orange County, Metro East Senior Park Apartments was developed by a trio of companies, AMG Real Estate, The Pacific Cos. and Jamboree Housing Corp. 

The property offers units ranging from studios to two bedrooms for roughly $999 to almost $1,500 a month, according to CoStar’s apartment listing website By comparison, the area around the property has a market asking rent of about $1,995 a month, according to CoStar. 

Metro East Senior Park Apartments includes outdoor space across five courtyards as well as a fitness center, outdoor dining and barbecue area, community garden, sky lounge and lawn games.