Clairemont residents are voicing strong opposition to a planned apartment complex that will serve the homeless.
The plan calls for a 52-unit apartment complex to be built at 5858 Mt. Alifan Drive, just west of Balboa Avenue in Clairemont. An existing building housing offices and small businesses would be demolished.
According to the complex designer, Wakeland Housing and Development, the units will be safe, secure and affordable apartments for people who have been homeless, or at risk of homelessness. Residents will have access to onsite services that help them live more stable, productive lives.
But some Clairemont residents are concerned over who’s exactly moving into their neighborhood.
“The demographic is most likely chronically mentally ill,” said Julie Wilds with the grassroots community group ClairemontCares.com.
The group is concerned many of the residents will be chemically dependent. They're also concerned about the planned complex's proximity to a nearby school, as well as security issues.
“I’m sorry, I have to say it, but it’s the worst of the worst out of all different communities of San Diego, and they’re going to drop them off right here. This isn’t even addressing the homeless issue in Clairemont.
The group of concerned residents also claims the developer isn’t being transparent about its plans.
At a community outreach meeting in April, representatives for Wakeland were unable to answer many specific questions about the project. But the developer says that’s because it’s still very early in the planning stages and they simply don’t yet have answers.
“We came very early and people are upset because we don’t have enough facts, but if we had come later, it would have looked like we’re farther along, too far along,” said Rebecca Louie, the Chief Operating Officer at Wakeland Housing and Development.
In an updated information sheet Wakeland is making an effort to address concerns over who will be living in the proposed apartment complex.
They say the apartments will provide homes for some people with disabilities, which could include mental illness, and will not solely serve the chronically homeless. Residents could include seniors, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence.
Wakeland says tenants will receive onsite physical and mental health support, job training and other services, including addiction treatment if needed.
“It will be safe, it will be secure, these are people that need help and are there getting treatment and are there getting what they need to live productive lives,” said Louie.
But some residents still aren’t convinced.
“We’re trying to make sure that our neighborhood is safe for everybody, including the people that would live here,” said Wilds.
“They’re full of smoke and mirrors and I think, honestly, I see this turning into probably 100-150 people, not just 52,” said Bromley.
Residents are also concerned about funding for the project. They claim the only way HUD funding can be secured is to house the chronically mentally ill.
Not true in this case argues Louie, who says there’s too much misinformation about the project being passed through social media.
“We’ve seen that this model works, we’ve seen that they’re not really disruptive to communities, it’s very common for communities to protest these types of developments and then they get built and you don’t hear much about them anymore,” said Louie.