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San Diego developer focused on affordable housing for those with special needs

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — For the past decade, San Diego developer has been focused on building affordable residential properties that include homes for those with special needs. It’s a venture that goes beyond mandates to an empathy born of personal experience.

“Well, she’s been surprising me for years,” said Jim Schmid about his 17-year old granddaughter Avery. “Her thoughtfulness, perceptiveness, and vocabulary. So, we just have these very adult conversations.”

Avery lives with “quad spastic cerebral palsy,” which severely impairs her movement, but not her intellect.

“I mean she’s fun to be with,” said Jim. “Because she says provocative things. And they’re well thought out, so you better be prepared for an argument if you disagree.”

In his granddaughter, Jim sees a strong and independent spirit. As the founder and CEO of Chelsea Investment Corporation based in Carlsbad, he’s able to help Avery and others coping with disabilities to live strong, independent lives.

“We wanted to target the group because housing was not getting built for them,” said Jim.

For decades, Chelsea Investment has provided thousands of affordable homes. About 10 years ago, the company stepped up its emphasis on “inclusionary homes,” that is, specially designed units for those with physical impairments that are included within a larger, standard development.

“People have problems that are not well known,” Jim said. “Think of the difficulty of taking a bath or a shower if you’re not physically mobile? How do you do that? Well, it’s okay when you’re a little kid. But when you’re an adult who wants to be given a bath?”

To meet such a basic need, some of Jim’s specialized dwellings include a shower that can accommodate a wheelchair. He recalls the gratitude of one resident in Santee.

“He was crying and said, ‘the roll-in shower was the biggest improvement in my quality of life of anything that’s ever happened to me.’ You’re not going to think about that until some adult comes up in tears saying, thank you for a roll-in shower. You would never think of that. And once it happens you would never forget it,” said Jim.

In a letter to ABC 10News, his granddaughter, Avery states: “What he does for the community of San Diego and people with developmental disabilities like me, he helps them find independence and homes. He gives them a space of their own.”

Chelsea Investment has built 115 specialized units with 80 planned to be completed within the next three years.

“I think we keep getting better at it,” Jim said. “Every project is a research in development. So, you’d like to think that the next one is a little better.”

For his commitment to affordable housing and helping those with developmental disabilities lead independent lives, we’re proud to recognize Jim Schmid, and his Chelsea Investment Corporation, as June’s ABC 10News Leadership Award winner.