DOWNTOWN — While many shoppers are lining up for last-minute Christmas gifts, people will be lining up in hopes of getting an apartment from Santa Monica’s largest affordable housing provider.

Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM) opened its doors to new applicants earlier this month, kicking off the long, competitive process for affordable housing. Applicants can take the first step, signing up for January seminars, on this Tuesday and Wednesday, or next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

After waiting in a line outside of 502 Colorado Ave. on one of the five days left this year, applicants will be given appointments for January. At these appointments they submit their basic financial information and, if they qualify, they make it onto the marketing list.

Typically, 3,000 to 5,000 people apply each year but only 80 to 120 units open up. CCSM is expecting 4,000 people to attend seminars in January.

Aside from income qualifications, prospective tenants can’t have been evicted in the past five years or have more than $2,500 in negative credit. Personal and property crime convictions within the last five years are also reasons for denial.

When a new unit opens up or a tenant moves out (CCSM’s turnover rate is less than 2 percent) CCSM officials invite a select number of people, usually 30 to 60, who fit the requirements to attend an open house. For instance: Applicants making less than $30,000 looking for a two-bedroom home. The prospective tenants who meet the assigned criteria are selected randomly.

Those 30 people are required to attend the open house. If they don’t, they’re removed from the list for one to three years. If those that do attend the open house decide they don’t like the unit, they are also removed from the list. The theory is that if a person turns down a unit, they don’t need housing as bad as the thousands of others on the list.

If the potential renters do like the unit, they get an application and the process becomes first-come-first-serve.

The first household that returns that application, with everything filled out correctly and all the signatures, gets in another line. Community Corporation is required by its funding sources to independently verify all of the information. They check with banks and employers.

So if you get on the list, get selected for an open house, get your application in fast, and are the first of 30 to 60 people to be independently verified by CCSM, you get the unit.

Rent varies from apartment to apartment but CCSM estimates price ranges: Studios go for anywhere from $435 to $1,195 per month. One-bedroom apartments range from $543 to $1,366. A four-bedroom could range from $671 to $2,095 monthly.

“The rent for an apartment is fixed and does NOT change based upon changes to the applicant/tenant‚Äôs income,” CCSM officials said in a flyer.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the office will be open from 8 a.m. until noon.

Next Monday and Tuesday the office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Next Wednesday the office will be open from 8 a.m. to noon.

For more questions please call: 310.394.8487 or visit communitycorp.org.

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