Local News

Ribbon Cutting For Affordable Housing Downtown

On February 7th, Mayor Jesus Silva and other local leaders participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the brand new Citrea Apartments on East Santa Fe Ave. which provides 54 apartments for low-income families in Downtown Fullerton.

OC Supervisor Doug Chaffee (left), Mayor Jesus Silva (right), Councilmember Ahmad Zahra, and project leaders cut the ribbon at Citrea.

The project is a partnership between the City of Fullerton, Related California (an affordable housing developer), and the Foundation for Affordable Housing. Social services are provided by LifeSteps and include adult educational courses such as financial literacy, health and wellness, skill-building, and computer training classes.

“I am very honored to be part of this,” said Mayor Jesus Silva, “when you see what it does for families to have their own place, a quality place with services, it really starts a shift for them to move up the economic ladder.”

The new Citrea Apartments has 55 affordable units.

Beth Southorn is the president of LifeSteps, which provides on-site social services for residents of Citrea. She says that social services, in conjunction with affordable housing, helps to prevent and end homelessness.

“At LifeSteps, we catch people before they fall,” said Southorn, “Over 85 percent of the time, we’ve been able to prevent housing instability.”

Daniela Cervantes San Elias is a Fullerton native, a single mother of two children, and a full time student and employee at Fullerton College. She lives in a two-bedroom apartment at Citrea.

Before moving in, she was living in a one-bedroom apartment in Fullerton in an area that was unsafe for her children, and the rent became too expensive. After moving into her parents’ house, she noticed that Citrea was opening, and she applied.

“When I was told that I was approved, that was the biggest blessing of my life. I fell to my knees with happiness because I never thought I’d have this opportunity. It’s a very safe location, very convenient for me,” said Daniela, who is getting ready to transfer to Cal State Fullerton to continue her higher education.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity,” she said, “I don’t worry about what tomorrow holds because I am able to provide for both my kids.”

Daniela Cervantes San Elias lives at Citrea with her two children.

Tom Willard, Founder and President of the Foundation for Affordable Housing, said, “There’s going to be 150 or so people who move in here, but over the life of this project there will literally be thousands of people who will call this facility their home…this property will be a launch pad for many families who are trying to get through the financial labyrinth of living in America.”

William Witte, the CEO of Related California, the developer of the property, pointed out that, “The good news is there are 55 families like Daniela’s living here. The not as good news is there are 1,300 plus who applied to live here. So, we all have to do a lot more.”

The center courtyard contains a playground for children.

Citrea is the first affordable community to be developed in the new Fullerton Transportation Center Specific Plan and located in close proximity to schools, a community center, the Fullerton Public Library, a public park, and within walking distance of the Fullerton Train Station and a regional bus transportation hub.

Citrea is located on the site of the former Pacific Citrus Products bottling plant which manufactured the company’s most famous product, Hawaiian Punch, in the mid-20th century.  That history is represented in a new mural on the site designed by local artist Mike Tauber and facing thousands of Metrolink and Amtrak passengers each day.

Local artist Mike Tauber created murals which reflect the site’s history as the former Hawaiian Punch factory.

The Nicolas Jr. High Concert Band provided live music for the celebratory event.

Citrea is located at 336 E. Santa Fe Avenue.