Innovative real estate that is a win for the local economy and the environment

by Wilda Wong | May 10, 2022

Original article at

Southeastern San Diego, a historically divested community, is home to Hilltop Crossing, a development making attainable housing a reality without the use of special subsidies

Hilltop Crossing, a new development at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Hilltop Drive, will bring 47 much-needed housing units. This initiative not only creates attainable housing but also engages diverse sub-contractors and incorporates thoughtful energy-efficient features.

On May 13, longtime San Diego developers Robert Ito and Roxanne Girard of Ito Girard & Associates and Jack McGrory of La Jolla MJ Management broke ground on this development.

Joining them were elected officials Chair of the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, City of San Diego Council President Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe, City of San Diego Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, and representatives from the office of California Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins. County of San Diego Accessor Taxpayer Advocate Jordan Marks also attended.

Mission Driven Finance Chief Investment Officer was invited to speak about the financing that went into the development.

Girard shared a powerful personal story of the challenges she faced when purchasing her first home as a young single parent.

“There’s no way to describe in words the feeling that you have when you move into your own home,” Girard shared, adding that the development includes assistance for first-time homeowners like she was 40 years ago.

Ito Girard & Associates and McGrory are building attainable housing units for households earning 81% to 120% of the Area Median Income, or AMI. Attainable housing units, as opposed to deed-restricted affordable housing units, are built without any special subsidies for developers.

The developers are investing in the future of the community by creating attainable housing. They are particularly interested in seeing people who grew up nearby become homeowners.

“While Hilltop Crossing does not have a prevailing wage requirement as it is not a public works project, Ito Girard & Associates and La Jolla MJ Management are committed to the economic growth of the community,” says Robert Ito of Ito Girard & Associates.

Hilltop Crossing is also a clean energy development that has procured goods and services from minority-owned firms. Most of its contracts so far are going to minority-owned subcontractors. This ensures that the Southeastern San Diego community participates in and reaps the benefits of the green economy.

Ito shared that in phase I, 46% of subcontract dollars were awarded to minority-owned businesses. These subcontractors live in the community and/or are committed to providing quality jobs in the community.

Affiliate members of the Black Contractors Association of California (BCA) secured contracts with the development. Abdur-Rahim Hameed, founder and executive president of BCA, says, “The inclusion of the community’s talent force in its infrastructure is a smart business imperative for equitable economic growth.”

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has identified addressing the affordability crisis and equipping small businesses to compete as two of the three main goals to create an inclusive economy to help build a stronger San Diego. To achieve these goals, the region needs more thriving households and quality jobs.

Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC, shares one way to grow quality jobs. “The economic impact from procurement of local, small, and diverse businesses is critical to San Diego’s economic growth,” he says. “The local spend made by large buyers, including real estate developers and contractors, will boost small business resilience and enable an increase in quality jobs across the region.”

The urgent need to address housing, as well as economic, health, and environmental disparities, has catalyzed the support of impact investors, including Mission Driven Finance.

Oralia Alvarez, director of business development at Mission Driven Finance, shares, “Hilltop Crossing’s procurement should serve as a model for both public and private markets on how they can create local opportunities.”

With the support of Mission Driven Finance, the developers created a financial structure that made it possible for individual investors and foundations—including BQuest Foundation and Alliance Healthcare Foundation—to make direct investments.

Mission Driven Finance is committed to providing capital to minority-owned subcontractors and contractors in the region, as well as to working with organizations on supplier diversity.

If you know any suppliers or contractors seeking financing, please refer them to us, or contact us at (858) 880-0252 x1 or

To be added to the Hilltop Crossing interest list, complete this form.