Supervisors Keep 151 Affordable Homes from Disappearing

News Date

In a move to help prevent San Diego County’s affordable homes from vanishing, Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to put a pilot program in action today by keeping 151 apartments affordable for low-income renters for decades to come. 

“This new pilot program from this Board is focused on keeping people in their homes, so they aren’t priced out of San Diego or end up homeless,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We’re taking action to keep market-driven affordable homes from disappearing. It’s just common sense, as well as relatively cheaper, to protect existing affordable homes rather than only focus on building new units from scratch.”

In August 2021 the Board directed the creation of the Housing Preservation and Anti-Displacement Pilot Program to protect existing “naturally occurring” affordable housing. These are homes that are affordable not because of rent caps, but rather due to market conditions. These properties are neither subsidized nor restricted by any governmental agency, and therefore have a potential risk of becoming unaffordable over time. 

At the time the County partnered with Ethos Associates, LLC, a company focused on developing new affordable housing and preserving existing affordable homes. Ethos identified a Chula Vista property with naturally-occurring affordable housing to be acquired, rehabilitated, and restricted for long-term affordable housing. 

As a result, the Board took action today to keep 151 housing units affordable to low-income households for the next five decades.  It authorized a 55-year regulatory agreement and $200,000 grant agreement for the Vista Lane Apartments, which has rents currently below market rates. The regulatory agreement requires the acquisition, renovation, and conversion of these naturally-affordable units into long-term affordable units with rent not to exceed affordability for households with incomes at or below 80 percent of the area’s median income. 

Additionally, as a part of this agreement, low-income residents would have access to supportive services such as community building activities, eviction prevention, information and referrals to other local resources, and support for seniors and youth. Casa Familiar, a non-profit, community-based organization, is slated to provide services to tenants. 

The Vista Lane Apartments have been partially rehabilitated including roofing, window, landscaping, leasing office, and exterior paint signage upgrades, in addition to renovations in 42 units. Staff reported to the Board that the County has completed all required reviews of the property, including a third party independent financial feasibility review of the proposal. 

Ethos is providing a capital investment of $2.9 million for general site improvements, interior improvements, mechanical and plumbing systems, electrical systems, fire and life systems, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements.  

The San Diego region needs 68,959 units for very low and low-income individuals and households according to the most recent 6th cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment, a planning process that identifies existing and future housing needs through the year 2029. 

Restricted affordable housing units for low-income households may serve seniors, families, persons experiencing homelessness, persons at-risk of homelessness, veterans, persons experiencing homelessness with a serious mental illness, and transitional aged youth. All units reserved for low-income individuals and households serve tenant populations earning below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). Currently, the AMI for a one-person household is $77,200 and $110,240 for a four-person household. 

More information can be found here.