The Grove is a new community of 81 affordable homes for seniors in downtown Vista, which serves a growing need for safe, secure and affordable housing for the aging population of North County. Located close to amenities that address the everyday needs of seniors – including bus and trolley stops, medical offices, a senior center and grocery stores – The Grove is a welcoming property that enhances the neighborhood, promotes a sense of community for residents and provides long-term affordability. That affordability extends to extremely low-income seniors thanks to the contribution of 24 Project-Based Section 8 Vouchers from the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, which will ensure long-term affordable rents for this vulnerable group.
The many benefits that The Grove provides are reflected in the words of resident Susan Hoefs, who says, “Every day we live here, we start to feel more like we are safe and secure and can look forward to a good future.”
Hoefs’ fellow resident, Melissa O’Brien, adds that she feels great relief that, “….we can afford this little nest, no matter what, on our social security.”
Nonprofit Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation began working on The Grove in 2016. At the time, the site of the development housed an outdated converted motel that offered less than adequate housing. Wakeland saw the opportunity to improve the neighborhood and provide a significant number of new affordable homes by demolishing the old buildings and creating a new state-of-the-art development with a design that ties in with the newly revitalized downtown.
The Grove was created in response to the City of Vista’s desire to build more affordable housing for seniors. With this in mind, Wakeland collaborated with project architects at Dahlin Group to ensure that the property would be tailored to the unique needs of the seniors who live there as well as the surrounding community.
During the pre-design process, Dahlin Group met with members of the Vista City Council to gauge their design preferences. The consensus was to avoid designing anything that would look “dated”—such as a literal interpretation of an old architectural style – but to also avoid anything that looked “too modern,” as they put it. In response, project architects strived to create a somewhat eclectic design that hints of a Craftsman style, but in a subtle way, a contemporary interpretation by use of modern materials and uncomplicated, budget-conscious detailing. The resulting design received widespread praise, and the project won unanimous approval from the city stakeholders during the design review process.
The design, as executed by Sun Country Builders, also intentionally incorporates many features that can improve residents’ quality of life and help them remain independent as they age. These include:
The Grove is also a model of energy efficiency and sustainability, and achieved a GreenPoint Gold rating through the use of measures including:
Since residents moved to The Grove in Fall 2020, Wakeland has implemented hands-on resident services to promote a sense of community, despite the roadblocks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A dedicated on-site coordinator performs regular wellness checks by phone to ensure seniors’ needs are being met and help them access technology to stay connected to friends and family. Additionally, the services staff has delivered door-to-door groceries, holiday meals and “welcome home” kits of household items graciously donated by the Allgire Foundation. Once it is possible to hold group activities, Wakeland’s staff will provide complimentary programs including gardening classes, chair yoga and line dancing to help further cement the bonds residents make with each other.
All of these features combine to create a community that is uniquely suited to meet the City of Vista’s long-term goals for housing seniors. Amanda Young Rigby, who supported the project while serving on Vista’s City Council, says, “One of the things that I like about The Grove is that it not only offers safe and affordable housing for our seniors, but also programming. It isn’t just a place for them to go and lay their head every day. You’ve provided an entire community for our seniors.”