It's not just a child that needs a village.

That's the philosophy of a new housing project on Tucson's south side that aims to encompass the spectrum of life in one community.

Sunnyside Pointe, a 7-acre development just south of East Irvington Road and South Park Avenue, will include single-family homes for first-time buyers, detached rental homes for low-income seniors and assisted-living services for the aging or ailing.

"We're imbedding a senior community within a multifamily community so young families can have their parents live nearby, but in their own home," said Dan Ranieri, president and CEO of La Frontera Arizona. The project is a joint effort between social service agencies La Frontera Arizona and Old Pueblo Community Services.

A centerpiece of the project will be a community center with diagnostic equipment where seniors can test their blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar levels. Any irregularity will prompt a notification to a La Frontera caseworker, who can follow up with the resident.

The Pima Council on Aging will have an office in the community center, and meal deliveries will be made there to bring people out of their homes and socialize, Ranieri said.

When La Frontera approached Old Pueblo Community Services about partnering with them on Sunnyside Pointe, it was both intriguing and intimidating, said Nick Jones, the nonprofit's CEO. Old Pueblo started in 1996 as a transitional housing program for men coming out of the prison system, but it has expanded its services over the past 16 years, Jones said.

"It is our biggest project and our scariest project because so many funding sources had to come together all at once," he said. It took city, county, state and federal dollars to fund the $14 million project.

Senior housing needed

Low-income senior housing is a pressing need in Pima County, La Frontera's Ranieri said, and incorporating it inside a family community is a unique model.

"The real need is rentals, and for many low-income seniors, their only option is apartments," Ranieri said. "This is a home. A home within a community."

Jim Murphy, president and CEO of the Pima Council on Aging, said that until now, housing communities geared toward seniors were available only in upscale developments in Pima County.

He said more than 1,200 people are on waiting lists for low-income senior housing.

"All of the projects or rentals that serve low-income residents are filled and have waiting lists," he said. "These individuals don't have the ability to purchase."

Some seniors are moving in with their adult children, and a growing number are ending up on the streets, Murphy said.

"There is a growing need for programs that allow residents to age in place," he said.

First phase

The first phase of the project includes 90 single-family homes for first-time buyers - defined as someone who has not owned a home in the last three years.

Up to $50,000 in down-payment assistance is available for eligible buyers from Pima County General Obligation bond funds and the federal home loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program.

The three- and four-bedroom homes range in size from 1,132 to 1,396 square feet, with mortgages as low as $722 per month for qualifying buyers.

Under construction now are an additional 90 one- and two-bedroom detached rental homes with garages and patios, which are to begin renting next month.

At least one renter must be 62 years of age or older.

"The primary reason for the two-bedroom units is because many seniors have adult children with disabilities living with them," Ranieri said.

Rents, including utilities, will range from $453 to $816 a month, depending on the size of the home and household income.

The third phase will incorporate Avalon Health Care Group to provide assisted-living services to seniors within the community, Ranieri said.

"The adult-care homes will have 24-hour staff," he said. "We really want to develop this as a community with the full continuum of services for seniors and close-knit families."

Developers are still deciding how many homes will be designated for assisted living.

The housing project is designed to encourage interaction. Backyard walls are low so neighbors can see and get to know each other. Pets are encouraged.

"Seniors tend to isolate themselves if they're not doing well and nobody knows," Ranieri said. "Here, all these sets of eyes will be looking out for each other."

Who qualifies?

To qualify for a home in the Sunnyside Pointe development, the maximum household income by number of residents must be:

1 person: $33,400

2 people: $38,200

3 people: $42,950

4 people: $47,700

5 people: $51,550

6 or more people: $55,350

For More information

Go to for information on the first-time home buyer program. Call (480) 941-6149 for information on the low-income senior rental properties, which are to be available next month.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at or 573-4232.