PICO NEIGHBORHOOD — Good news and bad news for fans of affordable housing.
Good news first: High Place East, an affordable housing complex available to low-income families earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, officially opened on Thursday. The Pico Neighborhood project features 44 three-bedroom units.
Now the bad news: This is the last project from Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM) — the largest nonprofit housing provider in the city — that is completed with funds from the redevelopment agency (RDA).
RDAs across California were dissolved in 2012 to plug a statewide budget gap.
Before the dissolution, City Hall would spend more than $15 million annually to fund affordable housing. Since then, construction and purchase of new apartments for low-income residents has slowed to a near-halt.
Since 1994, about 38 percent of all new housing built in the city was affordable.
High Place East is also the last deal in the affordable housing pipeline of which CCSM is the sole developer and owner. Local and regional dignitaries were on hand to celebrate its opening.
Next door is High Place West, which has provided affordable housing to 47 families since its opening in November of 2012.
High Place East uses PV solar panels, LED lighting throughout, and drought tolerant landscaping.
“The location of this new housing will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases because residents will be able to walk to the Bergamot Station Expo Light Rail stop when it is completed in 2016,” according to High Place East investors. “HPE is a great example of urban infill located across the street from an elementary school and within three blocks of a park, library, shopping and high-frequency bus lines.”
According to postings on affordable housing websites, the rent for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit at High Place East is $1,227.
There is one last affordable housing project in the works, a Step Up project at 520 Broadway, that uses RDA funds.
To combat the RDA funding loss, City Council approved development linkage fees last month. When office or hotel or other commercial projects are approved, developers will have to pay, per square foot, into a fund for affordable housing.
Revenues from this fee, city officials say, won’t be enough to fill the RDA void.
Earlier this year, council put forward two measures, H and HH, that will appear on the November ballot. If they are both approved by voters, taxes on the sale of million dollar properties would rise $6 per $1,000 of the sale price. This tax would then be set aside to fund affordable housing projects.