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Anton Legacy celebrates 1st anniversary of affordable housing

One resident still tells herself, “Oh my gosh, I have an apartment.”

TUSTIN, Calif. (April 3, 2016) — One year ago, Lisa Wehrly opened the door to her new affordable-housing apartment and wept.

“Even now, I get emotional,” says the disabled medical staffer.

She’d watched the Anton Legacy apartment homes being built across the street from her studio apartment, and hoped to qualify. When they opened in April 2015, she was offered a one-bedroom unit.

“I walked in, and everything was so beautiful,” says Wehrly, 50, who lives on a limited income. “I actually started crying.”

Anton Legacy provides residents of Tustin with 225 affordable housing apartments, including 161 units for those making up to 60 percent of the area’s median income.

These apartments are just one example of affordable housing that Irvine Company has helped build from San Diego to San Jose, including more than 4,000 affordable units in Irvine.

The company teamed up with the group that is now Anton Development Co., and the City of Tustin to build Anton Legacy.

“Irvine Company sets a very high standard for everyone in our industry,” says Anton’s Chief Financial Officer Trisha Malone. “You can drive through the community and not see the difference between the market-rate apartments and the affordable housing.”

That’s the goal with all affordable housing that Irvine Company builds or helps to build.

“We don’t take any shortcuts on the affordable side,” says the company’s Senior Director of Affordable Housing Operations Barbara Breton. “The architecture is the same as our conventional units. The amenities are similar. This is the absolute top of the affordable market. And the residents receive the benefit.”

Anton Legacy is part of the larger Tustin Legacy, a master-planned community on the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Station. Irvine Company also built 37 affordable housing units at its Amalfi Apartment Homes that opened last year at Tustin Legacy.

Tustin, like many cities, requires home builders to set aside a small percentage of new homes and apartments as affordable housing. They are categorized as “moderate,” for those making down to 80 percent of the area median income; “low,” for those making down to 50 percent of the area median income; and “very low’ for those making less than 50 percent of the area median income.

The ”low” and “very low” housing ensures a healthy balance of workers in the community.

“That’s really workforce housing,” says Anton’s Malone. “It serves firefighters, teachers, police officers and families. It allows them to live in the community in which they work.”

Without such housing, Lisa Wehrly says, she’d be forced to rent a small room as she’d done for the previous 10 years, unable to cook or socialize at home—or host her family’s traditional Christmas Eve get-together.

“I finally was able to do that this year,” she says. “My two sisters, two nephews and two nieces came over and we opened presents. It was so special to me.”

It’s been one year since she moved into Anton Legacy, but every once in a while, she is reminded of the moment she first opened the door.

“I get this feeling,” she says. “I look around and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I have a bedroom. I have a kitchen. I have an apartment.’ ”