November 2, 2001

San Diego Housing Commission, developers to invest over $170 million affordable housing

The San Diego Housing Commission is working with for- and nonprofit developers to create a record, 1,513 affordable housing units throughout the city of San Diego. The $170.4 million investment in the local economy will yield 13 apartment complexes that will become home to over 4,500 low-income residents.

The Housing Commission provided a total of $19.5 million in low-interest loans and bonds for the apartments, which all will be built (or in some cases, renovated) by private sector developers with a year. Financing for six of the complexes had been tentative, until they all won state tax credit funding.

"We've had a banner year," said Housing Commission CEO Elizabeth C. Morris. "This is good news for San Diego's economy as well as for our working families."

The apartments will primarily serve as "workforce housing" to enable low-wage families to live near their jobs. Some of the housing will also serve seniors and disabled persons living on fixed incomes. One of the complexes will be for formerly homeless adults. The latter two were financed in part by Centre City Development Corp.

Seeing apartments reach the construction stage after months of working with the developer is rewarding, as not all proposed developments are actually built.

"It's sort of like kissing frogs," explained Morris. "We're never certain a developer will be able to get all the funding, like the highly competitive state tax credits, needed to make attainable housing financially feasible, so not all proposed projects become `princes.' But judging from recent activity and the fact that we were able to commit every dime from last year's budget to fully funded developments, I think word's gotten around that affordable housing makes good business sense," she said.

The Housing Commission provides financing and incentives to help make the creation of affordable housing financially attractive for developers (both nonprofit and for-profit). Commission funding is often the essential first financial commitment obtained by a developer, and is contingent upon securing the full financing package. Through low-interest and deferred loans, grants, tax exemptions, tax credits, and bond financing, the Housing Commission has helped create more than 6,500 affordable housing units over the past 17 years.

Consistent with the city's "scattered housing" approach to striving for blended neighborhoods, the apartments will be located throughout San Diego. A total of 1,513 affordable housing units will be created (seven of the complexes will be newly constructed, six by buying and renovating older buildings). Most of the apartments will be two-and three-bedroom homes with rents affordable to persons making less than half the city's median income. (Half is $28,450 for a family of four).

Construction work for all is expected to be completed in about a year.

The San Diego Housing Commission is charged with helping to bridge the gap between the high cost of housing and the large number of low-wage earners in the City of San Diego. The agency helps over 75,000 individuals with affordable housing each year, through award-winning programs that benefit the city's economy and help revitalize neighborhoods.

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