USA Properties sells Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch in Roseville

Opened less than a year ago, Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch in Roseville has fulfilled one prediction made when it went up for sale: a triple-digit sales price.

The 300-unit apartment property developed by USA Properties Fund Inc. sold for $111.34 million earlier this month to Bridge Partners, out of Walnut Creek.

A message left with Bridge Partners wasn’t returned, while USA Properties Fund President Geoff Brown said it was a property to be proud of.

“We developed a high-end, quality apartment community with a long list of amenities in an excellent location in one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, and that helped drive the incredible interest,” Brown said in an email. “We’re extremely proud of what we accomplished with Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch, and the sale will help fund our future apartment communities.”

On a per-unit basis, Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch sold for about $371,000, likely among the highest on that basis this year so far. Occupancy at the time of sale wasn’t available, but was at 96% when the property hit the market in February.

Units at Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch range from one to three bedrooms and 771 to 1,258 square feet. Amenities include quartz countertops and laundry appliances in every unit, a heated pool/spa, a fitness center and outdoor gas grills.

CBRE Capital Markets and CBRE Sacramento Multifamily brokered the deal. The same brokerage has listed two other large, suburban apartment properties in recent weeks: 260-unit Garnet Creek in Rocklin and 410-unit Autumn Ridge in Citrus Heights.

A representative of CBRE was unavailable to discuss the new listings further. But in a news release, the brokerage stated it believed both properties would each sell for $100 million or more.

Garnet Creek, by Cresleigh Homes, is the newer of the two, built in 2018. Autumn Ridge is owned by Oakmont Properties and was built in 1986. Leasing is at 99% and 96%, respectively. Records don’t show any sale for Garnet Creek since it was built, while Autumn Ridge last sold in 2012 for an undisclosed price.

Research firm Yardi Matrix’s May report on multifamily rents offers evidence of why such properties are commanding high prices. According to the report, the Sacramento region saw a 8.3% gain in rents over the last year, the third highest of any region in the U.S.

In particular, rents at “lifestyle” properties — usually newer properties where residents rent by choice — rose by about 12% locally over the last year. The lifestyle description would apply to both Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch and Garnet Creek.

Lifestyle apartment properties have gotten a new boost of attention over the last year from Bay Area residents, working remotely because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In some cases, the cheaper rents in the Sacramento region have compelled a move even as they’re uncertain about putting down money for a single-family home in a highly competitive local real estate market.

(This post first appeared in the Sacramento Business Journal on June 15, 2021. The story appears as published on the Business Journal website.)

USA Properties ranks among nation’s leading affordable housing companies

USA Properties Fund is one of the nation’s largest affordable housing owners in the nation, and was among the leading developers in 2020, according to a just-released report by Affordable Housing Finance.

The company ranked No. 41 on Affordable Housing Finance’s closely watched Affordable Housing Owners list, with 10,735 affordable units at 84 communities in California and Nevada.

USA Properties, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has been aggressively building affordable housing for decades – and has increased production in recent years.

The Roseville-based company ranked No. 13 on the Affordable Housing Finance Developers list with 983 affordable housing units in the works as of Jan. 1, 2021 – only about 150 shy from landing in the top 10.

USA Properties expanded into market-rate apartment communities several years ago, and has developments in the Bay Area, the Sacramento region and Southern California. “We remain as committed as ever to building affordable apartment communities that provide much-needed housing for low-income residents and investing in neighborhoods and communities,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties. “We’re very proud of our accomplishments and being recognized on the Affordable Housing Finance lists that highlight our ongoing efforts and hard work to provide quality housing.”

USA Properties starts construction on Terracina at Lancaster, an affordable apartment community

264-apartment development will offer one- to four-bedroom units and a large community space with a pool, sports court, tot lot, and barbecue and picnic area

LANCASTER, Calif. – USA Properties Fund has started construction on Terracina at Lancaster, bringing more greatly needed affordable housing to the fast-growing city in northern Los Angeles County.

The 264-apartment community, located at 1752 E Avenue J4 just west of the Antelope Valley Freeway, will offer affordable housing with a long list of amenities – including a large community space – for residents that meet income requirements.

Terracina at Lancaster is close to health care providers, shopping centers, restaurants and several public schools. Terracina at Lancaster is also less than a mile from Avenida Crossing, another affordable apartment community owned and managed by USA Properties in Lancaster.

“We’re strongly committed to building quality communities that help meet the incredible need for affordable housing – and housing overall – while also improving neighborhoods and investing in the region,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties Fund in Roseville. “We’ve enjoyed providing affordable housing to residents at Avenida Crossing, and we’re looking forward to the same experience with Terracina at Lancaster.”

Community should be completed in late 2023

Construction on the $81 million development started in mid-May. JPMorgan Chase and WNC are investment partners. Terracina at Lancaster, which will offer one- to four-bedroom homes, is scheduled to be completed in late 2023.

Terracina at Lancaster is the fourth apartment community under construction by USA Properties in Southern California, joining affordable housing developments in Panorama City and Simi Valley. The 40-year-old company, one of the largest affordable apartment community developers in the West, also has a market-rate project in the works in Simi Valley.

The four apartment communities will have a combined 814 units and a total cost of about $275 million.

Apartments for low-income residents

Fast-rising rents in recent years have greatly increased the need for more affordable housing in California. Terracina at Lancaster will offer rents about 35% less than nearby market-rate communities in Lancaster, according to RENTCafe.

Renters earning 50% to 60% of the area median income for Los Angeles County are eligible for Terracina at Lancaster. For example, a family of four with household income of less than $71,000 would qualify under the 60% area median income.

Estimated rents will range from $1,108 to $1,330 for a one-bedroom apartment, to $1,715 to $2,058 for a four-bedroom home.

Terracina at Lancaster will have 11, three-story buildings that surround a community space with play and recreation areas. 

Apartments will include energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures, ceiling fans and low-flow faucets, showers and toilets. Ground-floor apartments will have a patio, with a balcony for those on the second- and third-floor units.

Residents will also enjoy a long list of community amenities, including a pool, picnic and barbecue areas with shade structures, a tot-lot play area and a sports court for basketball, four-square, hopscotch and tetherball. Walking paths with benches along the way are part of the 11-acre community.

“It’s really designed around a huge community space,” said Leatha Clark, project manager for USA Properties. “We’re building a very family-friendly community.”

A community room with a hospitality kitchen, a computer area, fitness room and on-site laundry facilities are other features of Terracina at Lancaster.

The apartment community will include an after-school resources room, a flexible space where children can do homework or residents can enjoy hobbies or learn new skills.

LifeSTEPS program available, including college and youth sports scholarships

Social-services provide LifeSTEPS will have a counselor and resources available for residents at Terracina at Lancaster. Residents will also have access to The JB Brown Fund, an effort between USA Properties and LifeSTEPS that provides college and youth sports scholarships and financial assistance to residents for unexpected emergencies.

“We build communities that are so much more than just the buildings,” Brown said. “We connect residents with each other, we help families achieve their dreams and reach goals. We help residents build a better, more stable future.”

And a more sustainable one. USA Properties, a Build It Green builder, will have a long list of energy-efficient and sustainability features at Terracina at Lancaster, including a solar-panel system, recycled material insulation, mechanical ventilation for improved air quality, and water-efficient landscaping and irrigation system.

“We’re always looking at how we can get better,” Brown said. “from our construction practices to improving the lives of residents.”

USA Properties partners on modular construction projects

Company invests in factory and an affordable apartment community in San Jose

Just over two years since breaking ground, Autovol is now using automation in new ways as it nears completion of its first major affordable housing project. The project, Virginia Street Studios, will make high-quality apartment homes more affordable to seniors in San Jose, one of America’s 10 most expensive cities.

(Editor’s note: USA Properties Fund is an investor-partner in the Autovol factory and Virginia Street Studios)

The 400,000-square-foot Autovol factory has now successfully deployed its unique combination of construction trades and robotic automation. Autovol has hired more than 100 employees, which the company calls Solutioneers. Led by CEO Rick Murdock and co-developed by The Pacific Companies, Autovol is pioneering a new kind of modular construction.

“Automation and robotics will lead the world into the future of housing,” Murdock said. “What we’re doing hasn’t been attempted before. Our investors and Solutioneers leaned in with lots of confidence, and now we’re seeing great results that prove they were right.”

‘Raise the bar of career satisfaction in construction’

According to Murdock, automated modular construction is designed to “take the back-breaking work off of people, and use new techniques that weren’t humanly possible.”

Robotics empower the company to create new kinds of careers and a culture designed to “raise the bar of career satisfaction in construction,” Murdock said.

The company is staffing up toward an expected team of 300-plus Solutioneers, and already has 600 modular units on its docket, with capacity for more.

Besides its own team of Solutioneers, Autovol has helped create over 100 jobs for the various companies helping build, tool-up, and service this first-of-its kind factory. One of these is House of Design, an automation and robotics firm also based in Nampa, Idaho.

According to Shane Dittrich, House of Design founder, the company has grown by helping develop this new kind of automation.

“The collaborative effort of people and industrial robots in the off-site construction space provides endless opportunities. We can’t solve the problems of unavailable labor and housing affordability without automation,” Dittrich said. “We also don’t solve these problems without visionary companies willing to take a chance and endure unavoidable speed bumps on the road to extraordinary success. We applaud Autovol for their commitment and we’re excited to be on the forefront of realized robotics for construction technology.”

San Jose apartment community to provide 301 units

Virginia Studios will be a five-story, 301-unit complex that will be over-podium, including underground parking. Automation is doing a substantial portion of the work, with Solutioneers skilled in the construction trades doing finishing work and other key tasks.

To learn more about Autovol, its vision, culture, current openings, and the Virginia Street Studios project, visit the company’s just-updated website at www.autovol.com

For more information about House of Design Robotics, one of Idaho’s leading automation companies, visit www.thehouseofdesign.com

For information about Pacific Companies, developer of The Virginia Street project, and a national leader in affordable housing development, visit www.tpchousing.com

USA Properties starts construction on two adjacent apartment communities in Simi Valley

Combined $114 million development will provide mixed-income, multigenerational housing near freeways, shopping, schools and health care providers

USA Properties Fund has started construction on two apartment communities in Simi Valley, creating a mixed-income, multigenerational development that will provide 311 much-needed homes to residents.

The almost 13-acre development will include The Landing at Arroyo – a market-rate apartment community with a long list of amenities – and Vintage at Sycamore, an affordable senior community with numerous features for residents at least 62 years old.

The high-profile project, located on the former Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District’s headquarters at 1692 Sycamore Drive, offers easy access to the 118 (Ronald Reagan) Freeway, shopping centers, restaurants, a hospital, several public schools and parks.

“This is highly sought-after land, it’s an excellent location,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties Fund in Roseville. “We’ve been working closely with the City of Simi Valley for several years, and we share a commitment of providing quality housing that meets the needs of residents.”

USA Properties Fund already owns and manages the Las Serenas and Vintage Paseo apartment communities in Simi Valley, and has a long-standing relationship with the city. The city held numerous public hearings on the combined $114 million Landing at Arroyo-Vintage at Sycamore project in recent years.

“We chose USA Properties because of its positive history with the city, as well as its willingness to provide much-needed affordable housing for our senior community,” said Simi Valley Mayor Pro Tem Dee Dee Cavanaugh, who was then a director on the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Board. “Now, as a member of the City Council, I have the unique opportunity to be involved on the design and building side, and will see this development to its completion.

The Landing at Arroyo and Vintage at Sycamore are next-door to each other but separate projects. However, the combined six, three-level buildings will look the same to people passing by on the street.

“You won’t be able to tell the affordable and market-rate buildings apart,” said Jatin Malhotra, Acquisitions Manager for USA Properties. “Both will complement the neighborhood and expand USA’s footprint in a highly desired community.”

‘A welcome answer to many of the housing needs in our community’

Simi Valley, like many California communities, is dealing with a critical shortage of housing that has been exacerbated by the development of few mid-to-large multifamily projects during the past decade, especially for low-income seniors.

“We anticipate these two apartment communities to be a welcome answer to many of the housing needs in our community,” said Simi Valley City Council Member Elaine Litster, whose district includes the neighborhood. “Simi Valley is experiencing a greater need for senior housing, particularly affordable housing. Vintage at Sycamore is filling a need and providing beautiful, new housing for our deserving seniors.”

The Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura County contributed a $3.5 million subsidy for Vintage at Sycamore, a 99-apartment community for seniors.

“It’s no secret there is an extreme lack of affordable housing opportunities in our local communities,” said Michael Nigh, Executive Director of The Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura. “Vintage at Sycamore will add much-needed units to the inventory of affordable housing units for low-income seniors in Ventura County.”

The apartment community is for seniors earning 50% or 70% of the area’s median household income – about $45,200 and $63,300, respectively. Vintage at Sycamore, which offers one-bedroom units, will rent for $1,059 to $1,483 per month, depending on income.

Despite being affordable, the $32 million apartment community has numerous features, including those often only found at higher-priced market-rate properties. Vintage at Sycamore will include a clubroom; fitness center; a computer center with wi-fi and printers; a pool; an outdoor seating area with barbecues; and a pet area. Apartments will feature energy-efficient appliances, a patio or balcony, and laundry rooms on each of the three floors.

USA Properties, one of the largest affordable community developer-builder-managers in West, expects to complete construction on Vintage at Sycamore in late 2021.

‘Resort-like’ living next-door at Landing at Arroyo

Landing at Arroyo will look like Vintage at Sycamore from the street, but it’s a much-different and larger community than its next-door neighbor.

“This is definitely a high-end community,” Malhotra said. “It will cater to a range of residents, from single professionals that commute to downtown Los Angeles to families that want to live in an excellent neighborhood in one of the safest cities in the state.”

The 212-apartment Landing at Arroyo offers an impressive list of “resort-like” amenities, including a clubhouse with a kitchen; fitness center; game room; large saltwater pool and spa with cabanas; outdoor dining areas with fire pits; child play area; dog wash station; outdoor exercise area; locker room for packages; and private, enclosed garages.

The one- to three-bedroom apartments will feature stainless steel appliances; a kitchen island; an in-unit washer and dryer; high-end flooring; and a private balcony with a storage closet.

Landing at Arroyo should be completed in late-2022.

USA Properties partnered with Century Housing, East West Bank and Gables Residential on the $82 million project.

“The Landing at Arroyo will provide new housing for families, young professionals and the many who desire to live in our safe, welcoming community,” Council Member Litster said. “It is surrounded by wonderful neighborhoods, schools and other amenities. And the nearby Arroyo is a great place to walk, bike and recreate.”

The Vintage at Sycamore and The Landing at Arroyo development will be one of the largest-ever-projects for USA Properties. The 40-year-old company has apartment communities in California and Nevada, and entered the market-rate industry in 2015.

“Together, the apartment communities will showcase what’s possible with the right opportunity and partners,” Brown said. “And we will continue to look for similar projects, where we can continue to help meet the ever-increasing need for housing in California.”

USA Properties’ project in Santa Clara part of Google’s $1 billion pledge for more housing

Tech giant is funding 3 affordable housing projects in the Bay Area

(The following story appeared March 4 in the San Francisco Chronicle. The story appears as it did online.)

By Roland Li

Google and its nonprofit partner Housing Trust Silicon Valley have loaned $30 million to three Bay Area affordable housing projects. The commitment, announced Thursday, is part of the tech giant’s $1 billion funding plan to support local housing, which started in 2019.

The projects include Bridge Housing’s Hope SF development in Potrero Hill, Eden Housing’s La Avenida in Mountain View, and USA Properties Fund and the Pinyon Group’s Tasman East in Santa Clara.

Google, Apple and Facebook pledged billions in 2019 to help bolster housing after rents and for-sale prices soared in the past decade, making it harder for even well-paid tech employees to find homes. The coronavirus pandemic has cooled the rental market, but weakness in the job market has made housing an ongoing burden for many. Market-rate housing development is expected to slow in the Bay Area, reducing the fees that help support affordable housing projects.

“Affordable housing is needed now more than ever given the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our communities,” Rebecca Prozan, Google’s West Coast policy lead, said in a statement. “We continue to be as focused as ever on helping the Bay Area build more affordable homes in this time of need.”

The Potrero Hill project includes around 619 replacement units of public housing, which existing residents will move into, along with around 1,000 new affordable and market-rate units. The project was approved in 2017 and the first new building opened in 2019.

Cynthia Parker, CEO of Bridge Housing, said Google’s loan will help speed up development at the project.

“This means more than 800 affordable homes plus a range of housing, amenities and open space that will lift up the entire community,” she said in a statement.

La Avenida includes around 100 affordable housing units, with a third reserved for the homeless. The project at 1100 La Avenida St. has a budget of around $78 million, according to a 2020 city report. It’s 1 ½ miles from Google’s headquarters.

The Tasman East project at 2310 Calle Del Mundo calls for up to 150 housing units.

“This project will be one of the most well-located transit-oriented developments in Silicon Valley and will bring much needed affordable housing at a broad range of incomes near new and existing employment hubs,” Geoff Brown, CEO of USA Properties Fund, said in a statement.

Google previously funded projects in San Jose, Newark and Sunnyvale. Other plans include converting commercial land that it owns into housing sites.

Despite a shift to more remote work, the tech giant has numerous office expansions planned in the Bay Area, including in Mountain View’s North Bayshore, Santa Clara and near Diridon Station in San Jose.

Construction starts on Vintage at Woodman, an affordable senior community in Panorama City

239-apartment community is ‘the type of development that is key to addressing the housing crisis’

USA Properties Fund Inc. has started construction on Vintage at Woodman in Panorama City, bringing much-needed affordable senior housing to the community — and a major milestone for one of the leading apartment community developer-builder-managers in the West.

The 239-apartment community, located in the 7700 block of North Woodman Avenue just west of Ventura Canyon Avenue, will be available for residents at least 55 years old that meet an expanded range of income limits, thanks to the California Housing Finance Agency’s Mixed-Income Program. Vintage at Woodman is the first USA Properties project to use the Mixed-Income Program.

“We’re committed to building quality communities that become home to our residents, helps meet the need for affordable housing and improves neighborhoods,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties in Roseville. “Vintage at Woodman checks all those boxes, while also allowing us to tap into the Mixed-Income Program for the first time.”

Geoffrey Brown portrait
Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties

Apartment community for households earning 50%-80% of area’s median income

With the Mixed-Income Program, renters earning 50% to 80% of the area’s median income – about $45,000 to $72,000 for a two-person household leasing a one-bedroom apartment – could qualify for Vintage at Woodman.

“Vintage at Woodman is an example of the type of development that is key to addressing the housing crisis facing Los Angeles County and the entire state,” said Tia Boatman Patterson, Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency. CalHFA issued tax-exempt bonds and provided subsidy funds through its Mixed-Income Program for the project. “The mix of incomes in this project allows local residents to improve their financial and housing situations while staying at home in their community.”

Tia Boatman Patterson, Executive Director of CalHFA

The apartment community, featuring one- and two-bedroom units, is scheduled to be completed in spring 2023. Estimated rents will range from about $1,013 to $1,530 for a one-bedroom apartment, to $1,213 to $1,998 for two-bedroom, two-bath units.

Amenities include a community room, fitness room, barbecue area and pet-wash station

Affordable rent does not mean basic – or boring. The five-story building will offer a long list of amenities, including a community room complete with computer workstations; a fitness room; a second-level courtyard with seating and a barbecue area; and a pet-wash station. Residents will have access to on-site laundry and social-service programs through LifeSTEPS.

“Vintage at Woodman caters very well to seniors with its close proximity to shopping and a major Kaiser Permanente facility,” said Jatin Malhotra, Acquisitions Manager for USA Properties in Roseville. “It’s a very efficient project that makes the most of the Mixed-Income Program by taking an underutilized property and turning it into much-needed senior housing with a combination of very low, low- and moderate-income residents.”

So far, CalHFA has financed projects that will create about 3,750 units for mixed-income affordable housing in the state, Boatman Patterson said. USA Properties Fund — which has more than 90 affordable and market-rate apartment communities in California and Nevada, including 11 in Los Angeles County — is looking to partner with CalHFA and the Mixed-Income Program on other projects.

JPMorgan Chase, Citi Community Capital and RBC Capital Markets joined CalHFA on the $80 million Vintage at Woodman project that replaces an auto-repair business and small warehouses on the property.

“USA Properties and our partners are investing in the community and are looking forward to providing more housing,” Brown said. “And we will continue to look for other housing opportunities in the region and throughout much of the state.”

USA Properties celebrates 40th anniversary of helping meet the demand for housing

Industry leader has established award-winning social service programs for low-income residents, embraced aging-in-place efforts and expanded into market-rate communities

USA Properties Fund Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary of creating outstanding communities – providing much-needed quality housing for residents, developing life-changing social-services programs, and investing in and revitalizing neighborhoods in California and Nevada.

The Roseville-based company “goes above and beyond for its residents” with award-winning and forward-looking efforts and “works tirelessly to help solve the housing crisis,” say industry leaders.

“It’s more than just about apartments, we believe in building communities and providing homes for families and seniors,” said USA Properties President Geoff Brown, whose father founded the company in 1981. “It’s about impacting and improving the lives of our residents.”

USA Properties has enjoyed fast-paced growth during the past 25 years, from just a couple of apartment communities to more than 90 today – and becoming one of the largest affordable community developer-builder-managers in the West, and among the nation’s leading senior housing providers. The company expanded into market-rate apartment communities in 2015.

The company has also been at the forefront of embracing energy-efficient efforts, such as solar-panel systems, and environmentally friendly practices, including a modular construction project in the Bay Area that cuts costs, saves time and reduces waste.

USA Properties has about 375 employees and recently opened a regional office in Southern California.

But the company is much more than about apartment communities, figures and impressive growth.

“At the end of the day, all of the things that we do on a day-to-day basis, are meant to create outstanding communities,” said Jonny Harmer, Chief Financial Officer of USA Properties. “Areas that people can call home. Places where cities and communities can look at what we’ve done and see that our work has had a positive impact.”

(USA Properties has established a 40th anniversary website, complete with interviews of current and past executives, employees, partners and, of course, residents.)

Building a foundation by filling a need

J.B. Brown, an entrepreneurial businessman who had extensive experience developing housing for CalMark Properties and two other companies in Southern California founded USA Properties Fund in Santa Monica on Jan. 28, 1981. USA Properties, originally connected to a savings and loan, was J.B. Brown’s fourth startup in 12 years.

“My dad really wanted to be the captain of his own ship,” Brown said of his father’s decision to leave CalMark, a subsidiary of a much-larger corporation. “He was always willing to take risks.”

In the early years, USA Properties was sometimes a struggling startup but persevered, Brown said.

The company was busy building and selling single-family and multifamily housing in Southern California for the first several years. But when the buyer of an affordable apartment community under construction in Desert Hot Springs faced financial difficulties and failed to complete the deal in 1989, USA Properties took over the project, which enabled it to get into the affordable housing industry.

USA Properties, then with seven employees, embraced affordable housing and the new Low Income Housing Tax Credits program that started in 1986. The company’s original build-and-sell model evolved into develop, own and manage apartment communities.

“Successful companies find niches,” Brown said. “And affordable housing became our niche.”

Today, the company is one of the largest affordable community developer-builder-managers in the West, and has expanded into market-rate communities during the past several years, with housing in the Bay Area, the Sacramento region and Southern California. The company has a total of about 11,600 units in its portfolio.

Much of the company’s impressive growth – more than 10,000 units – has come under the leadership of Brown, who joined the company in 1989 and was named president in 1997. His father passed away in 2001, the 20th anniversary of USA Properties.

“With each additional apartment built, affordable and market-rate, we are helping address a critical issue in the state by providing housing to residents,” Brown said. “Every apartment opens the door to more housing and new opportunities for residents.”

‘Pivotal moments’

Like all companies, especially those that have lasted four decades, there have been challenges and difficult times, including four economic recessions and the elimination of the redevelopment program in California a decade ago. But the company has survived, succeeded – and often thrived, thanks to a five-year business plan that included moving to Roseville, two affordable projects early on and even some luck.

USA Properties moved from Southern California to Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento, in 1993. USA felt the greater Sacramento area would become one of the fastest-growing parts of the state because it was more affordable to live there.

Soon after relocating, USA Properties started two Sacramento-area projects – Terracina Elk Grove, an affordable community in South Sacramento, and Vintage Oaks in Citrus Heights, the company’s first affordable senior community.

Moving to Roseville and later opening a 10,500-square-foot office along with opening the two affordable communities were “pivotal moments” for USA Properties, Brown said.

Those apartment communities, along with the Desert Hot Springs project, helped pave the way for the road to success for USA Properties, which has become a leader in the affordable housing industry.

USA Properties “continues to work tirelessly to help solve the housing crisis for low-income Californians,” said Ray Pearl, Executive Director of the California Housing Consortium. Geoff Brown, a longtime advocate for affordable housing, was named a Housing Hall of Fame Honoree by the consortium in 2015. “The company is a leader in the field, providing housing and services throughout the state while also advocating for policies that impact the lives of the people they work hard to serve. The company’s contributions to real people’s lives are immeasurable.”

The JB Brown Fund and other efforts to help residents

USA Properties has expanded those contributions beyond housing to include efforts that provide opportunities and assistance for low-income residents through the JB Brown Fund, a grassroots organization founded with social-services partner LifeSTEPS in 2011.

The JB Brown Fund has raised $1.4 million and helped more than 900 low-income families living in USA Properties’ affordable apartment communities. The JB Brown Fund helps residents attend college, participate in youth sports or face an unexpected financial emergency, such as a job loss, death in the family or to buy a new pair of glasses or hearing aids.

Five years ago, LifeSTEPS and USA Properties established a pilot program that allowed low-income seniors to reman living at affordable senior apartment communities in the Sacramento region and receive much of the medical attention they need steps away from their home – for free. The RN Coaching PILOT Program recently received the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban’s 2020 Award for Healthy Homes, a national award that has recognized only 22 programs since 2015.

Brown said the company will continue looking at ways to help low-income seniors to age in place, a critical issue for older residents and their families.

“The company and its team go above and beyond just helping residents and partners,” said Beth Southorn, Executive Director of LifeSTEPS. “Together, we have provided ways to stop the cycle of poverty by lifting good people out of their situation and into the life they were created to live.”

It’s a commitment that started with the community-minded J.B. Brown and grows stronger today under a second-generation of leadership and hundreds of more employees.

USA Properties has “gone from a mom-and-pop company into a sophisticated, modern corporation,” said Michael McCleery, who joined the company in 1988 and retired as Executive Vice President of Construction in summer 2020. He was one of six employees in the corporate headquarters in the early days. “As the company has changed over time, what hasn’t changed is the belief in the people.”

Brown agrees, adding that employees and partners – including local governments, housing agencies, investors and subcontractors – have been critical to the company’s long-term success.

“If there’s one thing we don’t do well, is that we don’t celebrate our success enough,” said Brown, likening the effort to a winning sports team. “You don’t want to focus too much on how good you are, you always want to keep that edge. But, let’s be honest, there is also always a little good luck involved.”

Hard work, good timing and definitely even a bit of luck are needed for companies celebrating their 40th anniversary, a milestone reached by fewer than 5% of private companies nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I’m very proud that our company has made it to 40 years,” Brown said. “But it’s important that we keep the same fire, passion and dedication to be successful as we did when we were 20 years old.”

USA Properties and LifeSTEPS’ RN Coaching PILOT Program earns national award from HUD

Program offers free health care that helps seniors to age in place, improves health and saves money

A pilot program that allows low-income seniors to remain living at affordable senior apartment communities in the Sacramento region and receive much of the medical attention they need just steps from their home for free has earned a national award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

LifeSTEPS and USA Properties Fund’s RN Coaching PILOT Program has received the 2020 HUD Secretary’s Awards for Healthy Homes, an annual award that recognizes programs that promote healthier housing through partnering, outreach and innovative practices. HUD and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) has recognized only 22 programs since the national award started in 2015, including five programs this year.

“It is heartwarming to receive this award, as in the past we have watched our seniors be prematurely placed in skilled-nursing facilities and this program clearly saves money and returns the dignity to our seniors as they successfully age in place,” said Beth Southorn, Executive Director of LifeSTEPS. “I am so very thankful for our team’s hard work, and I have loved watching early heath intervention help our seniors live longer and happier lives.”

Many residents can ‘age in place’ thanks to program

The RN Coaching PILOT Program is one of the first of its kind in California and helps seniors, many who have health issues and can’t easily get to a doctor, to “age in place,” thanks to an on-site registered nurse who visits their senior communities every week.

“Access to health care is a huge issue for low-income seniors, and having an RN available for residents improves their health, reduces costs, saves time and helps them stay out of the hospital and in their homes longer,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties. “Health is a primary reason why seniors are forced to leave their homes for assisted-living facilities, nursing homes or move in with family members.”

With the RN Coaching PILOT Program, low-income seniors dealing with allergies, a nagging cold or cough, or even chronic conditions – such as arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol or high-blood pressure – are able to get the health care they need at their apartment communities, said Meredith Chillemi, Director of Aging and Education Services for LifeSTEPS. The registered nurse also assists residents with managing their medications, preventing falls in their apartments and navigating the often-complex world of health care, from choosing a new provider to completing confusing insurance forms.

The goal is to keep residents healthy and out of hospital emergency rooms, and help develop a plan for those who are in the hospital to safely return home as soon as possible, Chillemi said. The program helps about three residents return home from the hospital every week.

More than 900 seniors helped, saving Medi-Cal almost $1.2 million

More than 900 seniors have accessed the RN Coaching PILOT Program since it started in spring 2016, saving government health insurance programs like Medi-Cal almost $1.2 million. And the percentage of residents moving out of the apartment communities for health issues has dropped 70% during the past four years.

Aging in place has numerous benefits beyond better health for seniors, from cost savings to keeping them mentally and physically active. Seniors often develop close friendships and social support systems in senior apartment communities, and moving them to an assisted-living facility or skilled-nursing home can cause depression and isolation. Assisted-living facilities can also have a financial hardship on residents, their families, government programs and society overall, according to a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“The program offers seniors free health care and the opportunity to remain in their apartment communities, where they are close to their friends and often have lived for many years,” USA Properties’ Brown said. “Our residents are happier and healthier, and the program saves money.”

Hands-on training for UC Davis nursing students

Roseville-based USA Properties, one of the largest affordable apartment community developer-builder-managers in the West, and LifeSTEPS, which provides social services at many USA Properties-owned communities, share the cost for the RN Coaching PILOT Program.

The program is available to residents at Sierra Sunrise in Carmichael and Vintage Oaks Senior Apartments in Citrus Heights. USA Properties recently sold Creekside Village Apartments in Sacramento, which had also participated in the pilot program.

The RN Coaching PILOT Program also provides hands-on health care training for nursing students from the Betty Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis. Several nursing students and their nurse adviser have been meeting with patients every week this summer.

USA Properties and LifeSTEPS have been working on finding funding for the program, meeting with elected representatives and health officials during the past few years. A state senator introduced a bill (SB 1292) in February that would have expanded the program to five counties and receive state funding as part of a pilot program. But the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with the state’s budget challenges shelved the effort.

“The program has been such a success, in so many ways,” Brown said. “Now, we just need to find the financial support to continue and expand the program to more affordable apartment communities and help more low-income seniors.”

USA Properties, LDK Ventures start construction on The A.J. in Sacramento

Mixed-use project includes studio, one and two-bedroom units in downtown Railyards

LDK Ventures and USA Properties Fund have started construction on The A.J., a mixed-use residential project that will offer 345 residential rental units, 69 of which will be affordable units, and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail. The A.J. is the first project at the Railyards to begin construction and is set for completion by Winter 2022.

“From the start, the A.J. has been integral in our vision for the Railyards,” said Denton Kelley, Managing Principal of Downtown Railyard Venture, the master developer of the Railyards. “There has been a voiced need for multifamily housing that has modern amenities, is affordable, and is proximate to Downtown Sacramento. The A.J. fills that void.”

Modern amenities for an urban lifestyle

The A.J. will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units that have been thoughtfully designed to fit an urban lifestyle. Named in honor of A.J. Stevens, who was deemed the father of innovation at the Sacramento Railyards in the late-1800s, the project’s fresh design pays subtle homage to its roots while embracing modern design cues. All apartments will achieve Build It Green gold standard for energy efficiency and include well-appointed finishes, plenty of natural light, and built-in cabinetry.

Residents will also enjoy amenities including a fitness center, pool and spa, dog wash, and a rooftop sky lounge with outdoor grills and fire tables.

Unbeatable location in downtown Sacramento

When completed, the A.J. will span 2.89 acres on the southeast corner of 6th Street and Railyards Boulevard. It will offer immediate light rail and bus access, an abundance of parking, and more than 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail with a mix of neighborhood-serving tenants.

“Not only does this project add to our supply of badly needed affordable housing, it is hugely symbolic as the first housing ever built in the downtown Railyard, which has sat idle for far too long,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “The Railyards is on its way to becoming an extension of downtown with housing, stores, offices and Major League Soccer. Despite the pandemic, our momentum as a city continues.”

The A.J. is also within walking distance of other planned developments at the Railyards, including a Major League Soccer stadium, Kaiser Medical Campus, and the Central Shops District.

Key local and governmental partnerships further progress

The A.J. at the Railyards is a partnership between LDK Ventures, the managing member of Downtown Railyard Venture, and USA Properties Fund, Inc. Significant assistance was provided by the City of Sacramento, the California Department of Housing and Community Development and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency to permit and structure the financing for the $130 million residential project.

“The A.J. shows what is possible with private-public partnerships, and how working together we can help meet the housing needs of residents at a range of income levels,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties Fund. “We’re proud to be part of such a forward-looking project, the first of many that will transform the historic Railyards into a vibrant district.”

As a mixed-income project, with 20% of the units reserved for tenants with an income at or below 50% of the area median income, the project qualified for a tax-exempt bond allocation. This competitive allocation of $85 million was awarded in December 2019. With the aid of this bond allocation, the development team of USA Properties and LDK Ventures was able to secure financing through Citi Bank Community Capital. This financing, along with the Opportunity Zone status of the Railyards, helped make it feasible to raise the accompanying equity and initiate construction of this critical project for downtown Sacramento and the Railyards redevelopment.

To learn more about the Railyards and the A.J., visit www.Railyards.com.