Stretched along a narrow street in a stable neighborhood with good schools, the Paula Avenue Apartments house families with low and very low incomes in buildings that are designed to evoke the image of neighboring market-rate condominium complexes. The alternating two and three stories of stacked flats look like townhouses; shared stairways are hidden between buildings and no parking is visible from the street. The third floor units have vaulted ceilings and all the units have sunny, south-facing balconies. Four of the ground-floor units are arranged for transitional families to share living accommodations for a short period of time.
The city considered the site to be undevelopable because of its odd shape, but the solution proposed by architects, Marquis Associates, which placed the housing close to the street edge and the parking in back, persuaded the city that the site would work for housing. Terry Wenzl of First San Jose Housing said, "Our task was to design fairly high-density housing without conveying a dense feeling and I think we achieved this." The City of San Jose is generally supportive of well-conceived affordable housing developments. Alex Sanchez, housing manager, noted, "Many of the residents are families with very low incomes who were displaced when the convention center was built in the downtown. They now enjoy high-quality design and good property management, and the development has contributed to the stability of the neighborhood."