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Civic San Diego Closes New Markets Tax Credit Loan for Casa Familiar’s “Living Rooms at the Border”

October 31, 2018

Funding will finance construction of a new mixed-use community-focused development in San Ysidro

SAN DIEGO —Civic San Diego (CivicSD) announced a $9.325 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investment with Living Rooms at Casa, an affiliate of Casa Familiar, Inc., to construct a new, 13,469-square-foot community-focused mixed-use development.

“Living Rooms at the Border is a project whose time has come,” said Kurt Chilcott, Chairman of Casa Familiar’s Board of Directors. “This incredible, unique and innovative development will help transform not just the community of San Ysidro, but the greater practice of community development.”

Originally built in 1927 as the first Mount Carmel Catholic Church, this structure will be adaptively re-used to establish “El Salon.”  El Salon will be the new space for the expansion of Casa’s art and culture programming that will host a theatre and pop-up events with other San Diego arts and culture institutions. The “Casa-Patio” will house the UCSD Border Community Station, which serves as an urban laboratory that promotes interaction and collaboration with the community to address social and economic issues and support community development.

Casa Familiar’s Social Services Center (across the street from the project site) has seen an increase in demand and the project will provide office space to accommodate additional community workers, and office space for other arts and culture institutions seeking to reach this disadvantaged community. A 120 square-foot coffee kiosk will support the “El K-Fe” Youth Barista training program to provide employment opportunities for youth ages 16-24. Additionally, the project will include 10 affordable rental housing units.

“We are very excited to be a part of this new project that is sure to revitalize as well as bring new opportunities to a flourishing community,” said Andrew Phillips, Interim President of Civic San Diego. “Casa Familiar has done great things with the resources that they have, and we are proud that we are able to leverage their resources with the New Markets Tax Credit program. We look forward to the new housing units and the range of new services that will become available to the community as result of this project.”

In 2012, CivicSD formed the Civic San Diego Economic Growth and Neighborhood Investment Fund to become certified as a Community Development Entity. The main role of the Community Development Entity is to secure New Markets Tax Credit funds as well as manage Qualifying Low-Income Community Investments to continue the work of revitalizing San Diego’s underserved neighborhoods. CivicSD has received four allocations of New Markets Tax Credit totaling $133 million from the United States Department of the Treasury.

Congress established the New Markets Tax Credit program in 2000 to drive investment in both businesses and real estate projects in low-income communities. The program attracts investment capital to these communities by allowing corporations and individuals to receive a credit against their Federal income taxes in exchange for making direct equity investments in entities such as CivicSD. With the new Casa Familiar project, for instance, CivicSD provided $9.325 million in New Markets Tax Credits that were then purchased by Citibank to provide flexible financing to support the construction.

CivicSD is actively working to identify qualifying projects to receive this type of investment. In order to qualify, a project must be located in, or directly benefit, a low-income community by creating quality jobs, or providing goods or services to low-income persons. This form of financing is intended to provide no more than 20 percent of a project’s total cost, and is best suited for large capital projects of $8 million or more. To present CivicSD with potential projects for New Markets Tax Credit funding, contact Michael Lengyel at


CivicSD is a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation created by the City of San Diego to engage in economic development, land use and permitting services, and project management services.

Casa Familiar, founded in 1973, is a nonprofit, community-based organization that serves the community through advocacy, housing, arts and culture, direct social services, and education. The organization is widely recognized for its understanding of the unique challenges faced by border communities and advocating for the border region.


Last modified: November 2, 2018

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