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First Housing Wait List Opens for Moderate-Income Santa Monica Residents, Workers

 
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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 9, 2017 -- In a first, the City of Santa Monica is opening a wait list of affordable housing especially for moderate-income earners who live or work in the city.

The City starts accepting the applications at 8 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) on Thursday, a window which stays open until the City has enough applicants for all available units.

Housing Administrator Lucie Loach said the City typically has between 150 and 200 units available a year to moderate-income earners.

In the past, those slots have been harder to fill because those earners tend to have the financial resources to leave the sky-high rents of Santa Monica for areas that are less expensive.

“Santa Monica is not really affordable to them,” she said.

More moderate-income households “are needed to fill requests for applicants,” City officials said.

To draw more moderate-income applicants, Santa Monica housing officials decided to open a list solely for them this year. “We’re hoping to receive a lot of applications,” Loach said.

For the application and more details click here call the City Housing Division at 310-458-2232.

Usually, all those seeking deed-restricted housing apply together, pooling “extremely” low earners to low income and, finally moderate-income earners.
Units for the lowest earners fill up quickly.

To qualify for deed-restricted housing as a moderate-income earner, household annual gross income must be from $37,410 and $75,700 for a household of one; from $42,780 to $86,500 for two people; $48,120 to $97,300 for three people; $48,120 to $108,100 for four people; and $53,460 to $116,900 for households of five of more.

The size of the rent break for those who get affordable housing depends on the units themselves (which are scattered in private housing developments that are otherwise market rate) and the applicants’ ability to pay.

Affordable housing is based on 30 percent of the designated income category for the apartment. Apartments affordable for very low-income households, for example, have a rent limit of around $900 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Apartments that are meant to be affordable for moderate-income households have rent that can be “twice that amount,” City officials said.

In the 2015-2016 year, the City said rents for moderate-income earners in designated units ranged from $1,247 for a studio to $1,426 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,782 a three-bedroom unit.

Applicants must either live in Santa Monica, work in the city at least 36 hours per week or be in an approved job training program in Santa Monica.

Applicants also qualify if they were “immediately previously in the Santa Monica workforce but are now receiving unemployment, worker’s compensation, vocational rehabilitation benefits, disability benefits, or retirement benefits from Santa Monica,” the City said in a statement.

Much of California -- and particularly its densely populated southern half -- is experiencing a critical shortage of housing. It is especially acute for low- income earners, but in recent years has hit a middle-class which also can’t match soaring rents.

Santa Monica is one of the region’s most expensive cities in which to rent and buy ("Santa Monica Rents Continue to Rise, New Survey Finds," July 5, 2017 and ("Santa Monica 4th Worst City for First-Time Home Buyers, New Study Finds," July 18, 2017).

Rent Café, a popular online which tracks rents nationwide, found in a study earlier this year even the city’s least expensive area -- the Pico Neighborhood -- required $2,825 a month on average for a one-bedroom apartment.

One-bedroom apartments in Ocean Park and Sunset Park averaged $4,000 a month. Comparable units in downtown were $3,255 and $3,192 in Mid-City, Rent Café found.

Santa Monica voters approved an initiative in 1990 mandating 30 percent of new multi-family housing units must be designated affordable for those of very low to moderate income, with half the amount allocated to the lowest earners.

But as healthy as the City’s biennial budget is -- now topping $1.57 billion -- Santa Monica began falling consistently short of its affordable housing mandate ("Santa Monica Again Fails to Meet Affordable Housing Mandate," October 27, 2017).

That is mostly due to the funding lost with the dissolution of local redevelopment agencies five years ago ("Santa Monica Will Pay $57 Million to End Battle with State Over Redevelopment Agency Funds," October 25, 2013).

Santa Monica's Affordable Housing Production Program (AHPP) includes requiring new multifamily housing that is part of commercial or other developments set aside units with lower rents, or deemed affordable.

Developers can provide the units onsite, off site, pay a fee or contribute land the City can use for affordable housing.

Under the AHPP, developers can mix the level of affordable units offered within market-rate projects, although all can be moderate-income if in a no-residential zone.

 

 


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