MEDIA ADVISORY: Affordable Homes at ‘Atmosphere’ Address San Diego’s Homeless Crisis

MEDIA ADVISORY: Affordable Homes at ‘Atmosphere’ Address San Diego’s Homeless Crisis
May, 2017 Client News


  • Grand opening event ceremony for community of 205 affordable homes in the heart of downtown San Diego;
  • Development is an example of the ‘Housing First’ model that stabilizes lives by giving people a permanent place to live and access to supportive services;
  • Interviews with residents and tours of units available

WHAT: Finding an affordable place to live seems out of reach for many in San Diego, but a new high-rise is making affordable rent a reality for hundreds of San Diegans in need – including people who have experienced being homelessness. On May 31, the nonprofit Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation will hold the grand opening ceremony for Atmosphere, a community of 205 affordable homes in the heart of downtown San Diego with monthly rents that range from roughly $525 to $1,250.

WHO: Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Supervisor Ron Roberts, Councilmember Chris Ward and others.

WHERE: Atmosphere, 1453 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

PARKING: Metered street and pay lot parking available. Very limited parking is available on-site for media. TV reporters who wish to go live from the opening will need to use metered parking in front of the building or close by.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 31, 2017

  • 9:30 a.m.: Media check-in begins in the Lobby.
  • 10 a.m.: Media preview and tours begin.
  • 11:30 a.m.: Ceremony and remarks begin at rooftop terrace of Atmosphere.
  • 1 p.m.: Program and reception concludes.


  • Ken Sauder, CEO, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation (Ken is fluent in both English and Spanish)
  • Rebecca Louie, COO, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation
  • Interviews with residents schedule and availability allows.
    • Malaka is 25 years old and has a nine-month old daughter. She experienced homelessness while she was pregnant and it was very stressful, and has spent five years “couch surfing.” Malaka went to San Diego High and attended City College where she studied criminal justice. She is a full-time mom now but her goal is to work in the Department of Homeland Security as a TSA agent. When Malaka found out about Atmosphere, it became her dream to live there and she applied for residency. She constantly looked at photos on the website and prayed that she would be able to live there. Before living at Atmosphere, she shared a single room with her mom and baby in a house with 8 other women. Malaka has moved into a 1-bedroom home at Atmosphere where her rent costs the same as that single bedroom. She is “beyond happy” to have a home of her own where she and her daughter are not confined to one room. In her words, being at Atmosphere and having access to secure, affordable housing “helps people and makes us want to live again.”
    • Disabled senior citizens Vikki (61) and her husband Ted (72) live in a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home at Atmosphere. They spent 25 years working hard to build up a successful interior design business and own a home together but ten years ago, they lost everything when the economy collapsed. Vikki and Ted went from having a good life and a plan for their retirement to having nothing. They were “basically homeless,” and the stress of their situation caused both of them to suffer multiple health problems and go on disability. Vikki and Ted have been on waiting lists for affordable housing for nearly 10 years, and moving to Atmosphere has been the “light of their lives.” According to Vikki, being able to pay her rent and know that there will be money left over for food and other necessities, “feels so good. I finally feel like I’m on top of my life again, and I have hope that things will continue to get better for us.”


  • Atmosphere is Wakeland’s largest development to date, as well as the most unique. Wakeland is a nonprofit organization.
  • The homes serve the broad spectrum of people who need affordable homes, addressing San Diego’s growing need for permanent supportive housing and helping some of our most vulnerable neighbors live stable and independent lives.
  • Atmosphere combines affordable homes designed for qualifying individuals and families earning around $17,000 to $48,000 per year with 51 permanent supportive housing apartments designed specifically for people who have recently been homeless – including individuals with mental disabilities.
  • These safe, secure homes include wrap-around resident services that promote stability and allow them to thrive.
  • The $79.3 million Atmosphere development was completed on time and on budget.
  • Construction started in March 2015 and concluded in April 2017.
  • Financing drew on a unique mix of sources including both 9 percent and 4 percent state tax credits, state infill funding, funds from the County of San Diego, vouchers from the San Diego Housing Commission and former redevelopment funds from Civic San Diego.
  • The need for permanent supportive housing is critical in addressing San Diego’s rising homeless rate. It gives people who have experienced homelessness a permanent place to live so they can become stabilized and provides them with supportive services to achieve the goal of staying housed for the long term. This combination of housing and services – also known as the Housing First model – is a solution that has helped some communities in the United States reduce chronic homelessness on their streets by as much as 90 percent.
  • Atmosphere was also built to ensure longevity. With 205 units, it could potentially provide affordable homes to more than 10,000 San Diegans over its expected 55-year life span as residents succeed and move out, making room for other neighbors in need.
  • Atmosphere is fully leased-up, but people who think they may qualify for affordable housing can go to to find information about the waitlist as well as a list of other properties that they can call to inquire about vacancies.


  • Designed by the internationally-recognized firm of Joseph Wong Design Associates and built by Suffolk Construction Company, Atmosphere will achieve a LEED Silver Certification for sustainability.
  • The community features 12 stories of modern, comfortable and functional homes around an open central courtyard with three levels of underground parking, community rooms and a rooftop deck. The beautiful high-rise nicely ties in with the architecture of downtown San Diego.
  • Select homes on the 8th floor will be open for tour and media preview, so as not to disturb current residents.
  • Link to download high res images. No password required:
  • Program remarks by The Honorable Kevin Faulconer, Mayor, City of San Diego; San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts; San Diego Housing Commission Board of Commissioners Chairman Frank Urtasun; Civic San Diego President Reese A. Jarrett; Lisa Gutierrez, Vice President of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, a division of U.S. Bank; Simonne Ruff, San Diego Director of the Corporation for Supportive Housing; Atmosphere Project Manager Jack Farris.


  • Building is 218,000 sq. ft.
  • Site is .73 acres
  • 700 sq. ft. retail space at ground level.
  • Amenities include: Large rooftop terrace with community kitchen and BBQs; first floor community room/computer lab with on-site resident programs (job search/resume building, financial literacy workshops, afterschool program for youth); two on-site laundry rooms; 24-hour security desk; kids play area / tot lot; secured on-site parking garage.