Cesar Chavez Foundation hosts Covid-19 vaccine event at its affordable housing community in Fresno

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The Foundation will partner with the UFW Foundation to provide vaccines to community

Fresno, Calif. (June 21, 2021) – The Cesar Chavez Foundation (CCF), in partnership with the UFW Foundation, will host a vaccine clinic at its newest affordable housing community in Fresno on June 22 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will take place at Las Palmas de Sal Gonzales and vaccines will be available to members of the community at no cost with no appointment required.

“The Cesar Chavez Foundation is looking forward to once again partnering with the UFW Foundation to host a vaccine event at our newest affordable housing community in Fresno,” said Paul Chavez, President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “The Foundation is dedicated to working with its partners to ensure that as many people as possible have access to vaccines, particularly the most vulnerable in our communities.”

The Cesar Chavez Foundation has hosted dozens of vaccine events at its properties in California and Arizona. As a result of CCF’s efforts, thousands of people have been vaccinated. The Foundation will continue to partner with the UFW Foundation throughout the summer to provide vaccines to communities across California.

CCF previously partnered with the UFW Foundation and the UFW to vaccinate thousands of farm workers in March and April at the historic 40 Acres in Delano, Calif., which is owned and managed by the Cesar Chavez Foundation.

Where: Las Palmas de Sal Gonzales, Sr. – 5070 East Kings Canyon Road Fresno, CA 93727

When:  June 22 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.


National Fair Housing Month: An Interview with Chief Operating Officer Manuel Bernal

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In honor of National Fair Housing Month, we sat down with Chavez Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer Manuel Bernal to learn more about the Chavez Foundation’s role in access to fair and affordable housing.

What is fair housing?

It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities. The Fair Housing Act prohibits this discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

How are fair housing and affordable housing interconnected? 

The Fair Housing Act applies to everyone, market rate and affordable housing. However, because public funds—at various levels of government—drive the development of affordable housing, the scrutiny placed on affordable housing developers and operators tends to be much more stringent; and tenants have many more sympathetic avenues to listen to their concerns.  In fact, a substantial function for all affordable housing developers and operators is “Compliance.”   While the Compliance function has many sub-functions, a prominent sub-function is compliance to local, state and Federal Fair Housing laws.

How does affordable housing help to strengthen families and communities?

The driving concept behind affordable housing is that for some families the market costs of renting or owning their shelter exceeds their ability to pay—usually taking 33% of their income; an affordability gap exists.  Affordable housing fills that gap by either providing rental or ownership subsidies, or reducing the production and/or operating costs so that families can afford the shelter.  By filling the affordability gap, in various ways, affordable housing strengthens families by (1) not having to have multiple jobs to afford the rent or mortgage, thus increasing family time, (2) allowing them to redirect their remaining resources to other essential items like food and healthcare and (3) allowing them to save money to invest in themselves—like education for themselves and their children, purchasing a home, opening up a business, etc.  

Affordable housing not only strengthens families but strengthens communities as well. Affordable housing fosters diversity in communities by allowing families to live where otherwise they would not be able to afford.  In turn, diversity fosters understanding among people that otherwise would not interact.   Also, affordable housing is an economic development tool for communities.  It brings tax revenue and disposable income spending.  Finally, affordable housing is a long-term asset for communities.  Affordable housing will positively impact communities for the useful life of the development, which tends to be at least 50 years.

What are some long-term solutions to fair and affordable housing?

Fair Housing is an on-going battle against discriminatory practices by those who control housing finance, development and operations. When people’s mindsets are at play, it is hard to imagine that, at a practical level, Fair Housing for all will ever be achieved.  You cannot put a number to that.  Which only means that we as a society must find the means, energy and tools to continue this on-going battle.  

Similarly, resolving affordable housing seems equally daunting.  But since the affordable housing problem is primarily a numbers game (e.g. the gap between the cost of housing and what people can afford to pay), and not a mindset change, at least in theory affordable housing seems easier to solve.  Resources would have to be invested in reducing the cost of housing AND increasing the incomes of families.  You can put a number to that.

What happens when communities don’t have access to fair and affordable housing?

Housing is a basic need.  When adequate housing is not available, the ills that plague societies manifest themselves in varying degrees.  Just look around to identify our socials ills, and many can be traced to the lack of affordable housing.

When thinking of solutions to fair and affordable housing, what role does the Chavez Foundation play?

Housing discrimination and the lack of affordable housing have become gigantic and complex problems.  While it is impossible for CCF to solve these problems on our own, we can make contributions.  Our Housing and Economic Development team have been entrusted with leveraging $5 billion for underserved communities over the next 7 years.  That investment will create thousands of affordable housing units, and thus make a substantial contribution to the supply of affordable housing in this country.  In addition, CCF is committed to operating its affordable housing portfolio through its property management team.  This will ensure consistent compliance on all our units for all our families to all local, state and Federal fair housing laws.  

How does housing inequality connect to Cesar’s legacy?

Fair and affordable housing have a strong connection to Cesar’s legacy.  Fair and affordable housing speaks to:  addressing a basic human need; treating people with respect and dignity; leveling the playing field and giving families a chance at success;  addressing the larger needs of families, in addition to workplace needs; helping communities thrive.

The Cesar Chavez Foundation builds and manages quality, affordable, multi-generational housing with amenities including Si Se Puede Learning Centers and Si Se Puede Senior Centers. Click here to learn more about the Chavez Foundation’s Housing and Economic Development Fund.

Manuel Bernal’s nearly 30-year career in community development began as a Management Analyst for the City of Los Angeles Housing Department underwriting loans with HOME and CDBG funds. He later served as an Underwriter of equity investments at the National Equity Fund and was a co-founder and first Executive Director of the East L.A. Community Corporation. Manuel first joined the Chavez Foundation in 1999 and served until 2011 as Executive Vice President for Housing and Economic Development, and served on Chavez Foundations Board of Directors from 2011 to 2017. Prior to his current position, Manuel was the Director of Multi-family Housing for the City of Los Angeles.

Image: Las Palmas de Sal Gonzales, the Housing and Economic Development Fund’s newest energy efficient property for low income families and seniors in Fresno, Calif.


Ybarra Village, An Affordable Housing Development Near Completion, Set to Achieve LEED for Homes Gold Certification

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Ybarra Village, a joint effort by the Cesar Chavez Foundation and New Directions for Veterans (NDVets), is a new affordable housing community development in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. Set to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, the residential community will feature 64 units as well as on-site social service programs for veterans provided by NDVets. Thirty six units will be reserved for homeless veterans, some with special needs, and 27 will be designated for seniors with a preference for senior veterans.

“The LEED Gold Certification reinforces our commitment to inspiring and transforming communities in a way that promotes sustainability,” said Alfredo Izmajtovich, Executive Vice President of Housing and Economic Development for the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “We are proud to work with New Directions for Veterans in building sustainable and affordable living spaces for veterans in need of housing. We are setting the bar for what can be achieved both individually and community wide.”

Ybarra Village will provide a number of sustainable building methods in order to promote sustainability as well as result in lower utility bills for residents.  Water efficiency will be observed in the properties’ planned landscaping which will include an efficient irrigation system for a variety of drought tolerant plants and tree species that require low water and low maintenance needs, in addition to a shut-off valve, sub-metering for the irrigation system, drip irrigation for 50% of planning beds, timer or controller for each water area, pressure-regulating devices and moisture sensor or rain delay controllers.  In the interior units, water conservation will be achieved by the installation of efficient plumbing fixtures including low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets in both kitchens and bathrooms.  Additionally, all kitchens will have Energy Star dishwashing machines that will use less than 6.0 gallons per cycle.

Energy efficiency will be observed by a number of practices including the use of a high efficiency HVAC system, light fixtures and the use of rooftop solar water photovoltaic panels which will produce solar thermal panels which will pre-heat water for the domestic hot water system.  Energy efficient washing and drying machines will be installed in the laundry rooms.  The units which also include energy efficiency appliances including refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves.

There are a number of areas designated for residents’ use including two ample outdoor courtyards with tables and benches and a barbeque grill for group gatherings or individual use to encourage residents to spend time outdoors.  Additionally, the property includes a large community room, leasing office and office spaces for case management and resident services staff.   Ybarra Village will provide 53 parking spaces for resident use and service staff and a number of electric vehicle “EV- ready” chargers as well as 64 resident bicycle parking racks.

The property’s location is centrally located in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.  The amenity-rich neighborhood is within walking distance of grocery stores, shops, restaurants, schools and public transportation including Metro Buses and the Expo Line.

New residents will receive basic operations and training including a one-hour walkthrough of all features within their units so they can learn about the new sustainable LEED building and the many environmental benefits of Ybarra Village.


Grand Opening of LA Plaza Village in Downtown Los Angeles

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Trammell Crow Company (TCC), its subsidiary High Street Residential, the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Principal Real Estate Investors, in a public-private partnership with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum and the County of Los Angeles, are pleased to announce the grand opening of LA Plaza Village. The new destination, which is inspired by a modern interpretation of a Mexican hillside town, features 355 apartments, 20 percent of which are affordable housing units, 43,000 square feet of retail space and several public open spaces. The grand opening celebration will take place on Thursday, September 12th, while resident move-ins began earlier this year.

LA Plaza Village spans a total of 425,000 square feet across two full city blocks and includes four buildings that range from five to eight stories. In addition to nearly an acre of public open space, a pedestrian paseo lined with landscaping and retail shops passes through the development, linking LA Plaza Village to the Fort Moore Memorial, Olvera Street and Union Station. At the mouth of the paseo is a symbol of the unifying theme of the project, a specimen Sycamore tree, inspired by the historic El Aliso tree that stood in the Los Angeles basin for centuries.

“LA Plaza Village is as much about connectivity and open space for the public as it is about a needed supply of market rate and affordable residential apartments. The project, with its 43,000 square feet of retail space and pedestrian paseo, was designed to bring people together and honor the history of this neighborhood and the vitality of the Mexican-American traditions that LA Plaza Village is a part of,” said Brad Cox of Trammell Crow Company. “A tremendous amount of thought and research went into this project from a cultural perspective and it’s our hope that LA Plaza Village becomes another symbol of the vibrant blend of culture and history that makes up this area of Downtown LA.”

In addition to retail, the project includes more than 70 units of affordable housing.

“We’re proud to work with High Street Residential to bring much-needed affordable housing to moderate and low-income residents in Los Angeles,” said Alfredo Izmajtovich, Executive Vice President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “This community, 20 percent of which is affordable, brings comfortable, aesthetically appealing homes with high-quality amenities to residents that need them most, enabling underserved communities to succeed on all fronts. It is the first of many similar projects that our foundation is undertaking as a long-term effort to build wealth and lasting change in our communities.”

The Cesar Chavez Foundation is moving its 4,000-square-foot headquarters to LA Plaza Village early next year.

Johnson Fain, whose headquarters is blocks from the project, served as architect.

“As designers, we were inspired by both the profound modern tradition of Mexican Modernism and the present-day vitality of the Mexican American communities in our midst,” said Scott Johnson, a design partner at Johnson Fain. “Vibrant colors, lush plantings, tiled paving, and spirited graphics come together to celebrate LA Plaza in the heart of Los Angeles.”

In addition to new residents, restaurateurs and retailers, LA Plaza Village is also home to LA Plaza Cocina, a 2,700-square-foot museum, retail space and teaching kitchen that is a project of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, an institution dedicated to the culture of the Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles.

“LA Plaza Village marks the fulfillment of another major milestone for our organization that began in 2011 with the opening of our museum and will continue with the opening of our Historic Paseo Walkway in 2019 and Cocina in 2020.  These projects have helped spark a new cultural and economic revival in the historic heart of downtown,” said Lupe de la Cruz III, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Board Chair. “We especially thank our founder and former LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina for her vision and leadership and our partners, Trammell Crow Company and the Cesar Chavez Foundation, for making that dream a reality.”

LA Plaza Village also features one-of-a-kind murals curated by four local artists – Judithe Hernandez, Miguel Angel Reyes, Jose Lozano and Barbara Carrasco – each with their own voice and designs that celebrate the Mexican-American experience.  The developer collaborated with public art agency Now Art LA with hopes to ignite a new mural corridor along Broadway Street.

“We were honored to be a part of this project showcasing Los Angeles based Mexican American artists who have made an important cultural impact and contribution to our City,” said Carmen Zella of Now Art. “The artists who were selected thought carefully about their designs to create a visual story along the corridor of Broadway, transforming this passage into a cultural landmark.”

Over the course of LA Plaza Village’s four-year construction period, the project has employed more than 3,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 local area workers, and 671 apprentices, including 218 local apprentices. The general contractor is Morley Builders.

The High Street Residential and Trammell Crow Company team involved in this project included Brad Cox, Greg Ames, Christina Lee, Doreen Liou, Clyde Wright, Carlos Diaz, Abbey Ehman and Alex Valente.

A CBRE team lead by Derrick Moore is leasing the development’s retail space, which includes a number of shops, restaurants and a neighborhood serving drugstore.