San Diego County to open new affordable housing for older adults amid overwhelming demand

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Article by Blake Nelson  |  Read full article at San Diego Union Tribune

More than 120 new apartments are opening this week for low-income older adults, the first of nearly a dozen affordable housing projects under way using land owned by San Diego County.

The Levant Senior Cottages are near Linda Vista Park; the county is leasing out the property for just $1 a year.

Monthly rents will range from around $600 to $1,200.

“The building block is excess land,” David Estrella, director of the county’s housing and community development services, said in an interview. “This is an example of unlocking it and reimagining it and addressing the great need within our region.”

The need is great.

recent study by the nonprofit California Housing Partnership estimated there are more than 134,500 low-income households countywide that don’t own homes and lack access to rent-restricted or affordable housing.

There are a total of 126 studio or one-bedroom apartments. Residents of 70 units will have vouchers allowing them to pay only 30 percent of their incomes toward rent. The rest of the tab is picked up by the San Diego Housing Commission.

Those living in the other apartments are still expected to pay around 30 percent.

Vouchers that help cover rent have been a major tool to keep people at risk of homelessness under a roof, although budget deficits are forcing leaders to make tough choices about what to prioritize. The San Diego City Council is currently weighing whether to re-allocate millions of dollars the Housing Commission had planned on using for projects like Levant.

The cottages were created by Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation along with the nonprofit San Diego Kind Corp. Residents who need extra medical care will be served by the organization St. Paul’s PACE.

“It’s an extraordinary resource,” said Rebecca Louie, Wakeland’s president and CEO.

The project cost almost $48.9 million. The developer received $20.6 million of that total through tax credits, $19 million from the state of California, $7.8 million as a loan from JP Morgan Chase and more than $1 million in deferred fees, leaders said.

A grand opening is planned Thursday. Residents should be able to move in June 10.