Hundreds of senior citizens and people in need are at risk of losing their homes at a Rancho Penasquitos apartment complex.
A developer is building a new project in place of Penasquitos Village along Carmel Mountain Road. The current apartment complex of 332 units will be demolished and replaced approximately 600 of apartments and condos.
Jean Berntsen, 85, and her 91-year-old husband Don moved from Chicago in the late 1970's to be close to their son who was in the U.S. Navy shortly after the so-called “PQ Villages” were built.
They’ve lived in the northeast corner of the sprawling single-story apartment complex for nearly 40 years.
“When we moved here rent was only $125 a month,” she said
The couple's housing like many other seniors and single moms living here is subsidized; the rent is now just over $700 a month.
Residents here have been told they need move out by the end of the year as the new project begins construction.
The owner of the property, Atlantic Pacific Properties, is partnering with Lennar Homes.
According to the application filed with the City of San Diego Planning Office in February 2016, the developer is planning 99 single family residences, 105 triplex's, 120 3-story townhomes and a 277-unit apartment complex to include 28 income restricted units.
The Berntsen’s are actively looking for affordable senior housing in the North County,
“I'm still 70 on the list. I was 200 and something two years ago,” Jean said.
With limited affordable housing in San Diego County, Jean wishes something could be done to help her and her neighbors on a fixed income.
“I think when there is a place like ours, they're already here and everything, they should leave them. Why tear them down?” said Berntsen.
Father Anthony Saroki is with Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Church, just down the road from the development. He says many of the people who live in the complex attend church at his parish and some receive food boxes and other services.
Father Saroki believes the community plan calls for the property to remain affordable.
That is why he and a large group of people from the church and neighborhood marched from Mt. Carmel Catholic Church and held a prayer service at a park near Penasquitos Village Wednesday night.
They hope the message will help people like Jean and Don Berntsen to afford to call Rancho Penasquitos home.
We reached out to the company to learn more about its plans but did not receive a response at the time this article was published.