Palmdale’s Director of Neighborhood Services Mike Miller, right, presents affordable housing for veterans renovated by property owner Joe Estes with help of a loan from the city’s Housing Authority.

PALMDALE — After years of rehabilitation work, two apartment buildings in Palmdale’s central core are ready to provide affordable housing for area veterans.

City staff, political leaders and nonprofit organizations came together Wednesday to mark the completion of the twin apartment buildings at Fifth Street East and Avenue Q-6.

Property owner Joe Estes worked with Palmdale officials to get the project off the ground, securing a $160,000 loan through the Palmdale Housing Authority to help fund the extensive renovations required. All together, the work came to more than $350,000 Estes said.

The two buildings have eight apartment units, including one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

Estes said he plans to coordinate with local agencies that work with area veterans to find tenants. He expects to have the first units rented in a month or so, after a few last-minute items are completed.

“We want to see our veterans families in these homes and progressing with their lives in our community,” Palmdale’s Director of Neighborhood Services Mike Miller said.

Under the terms of the Housing Authority loan, the units must be classified as affordable, meaning rents at 80% or less of the median income for Los Angeles County and rented to veterans, according to Miller.

Speaking as a veteran himself, Assistant City Manager J.J. Murphy, a retired Air Force Reserves major, told Estes and his wife Elsie that he “had 22 reasons to thank you and your wife.”

“Yesterday, 22 veterans committed suicide and that will probably happen again today. That’s the national average. If more people like you and your wife did projects like this, then tomorrow maybe that number isn’t 22 anymore,” Murphy said. “This project has substantial impact on the future of veterans in the Antelope Valley.”

Estes said his own family’s history of military service, dating to his grandfather’s service in World War I, provided the incentive for the project.

“We’re here because veterans are out there protecting our rights,” Estes said. “This was something I felt I needed to do.”

The apartments feature upgrades such as granite countertops, and have been designed with convenience and comfort in mind, such as installing electrical plugs and cable connections high on the living room wall for televisions. They are also wired for high speed internet access.

“This is another example of a successful public-private partnership that is helping to revitalize our city and create positive energy in the community,” Councilman Austin Bishop said. “When residents see activity that increases the curb appeal and value of their neighborhood, it has a ripple effect that causes others to make positive changes.”

The project took several years to come to fruition. The Palmdale Housing Authority loan was approved in June 2014, but the loan was not recorded until January 2016, once all the paperwork was completed, Miller said.

A contractor was selected in June 2016, and the loan was amended to the final $160,000 amount based on the final contractor bids in September 2016.

The city issued a certificate of occupancy for the apartment buildings, meaning they were completed to the point of safely being inhabited, in February of this year, although Estes continued with finishing touches such as landscaping and a laundry room, Miller said.

The city’s final approval for the rental agreements and other documentation was issued in August, he said.

Unexpected issues, including extensive fire damage that had been hidden in one building and infestations of roaches and mice, extended the project longer than originally planned, Estes said.

“This wasn’t an overnight project,” Miller said. “This is very unique to have a family in community step forward (for this type of housing project). They’re not a professional management company, they’re not a professional land owner company.”

Located within city of Palmdale’s Third Focus Neighborhood, the apartments are near other recent rehabilitation projects including The Dream Center and Jimmy’s Place rehabilitated by AV Youth, the Yucca Neighborhood House and Gabriel’s House.

“These types of projects continue to drive down the crime numbers in Palmdale,” Miller said.

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