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Santa Monica Receives Nearly $9 million for Affordable Housing
By Jorge Casuso
February 19, 2021 -- The City of Santa Monica will receive a total of nearly $9 million from the State to finance affordable housing projects, officials announced Friday.
The California Local Housing Trust Program (LHTF) -- which provides a State match to qualifying local housing trust funds -- awarded the City $5 million.
"The City was awarded the maximum amount in recognition of existing local trust funds, as well as the City’s financial commitments to affordable housing in the pipeline," City officials said in a statement.
In addition, the Permanent Local Housing Allocation program awarded the City $547,516 for the current year and approximately $3.3 million over five years.
The new funding will be combined with the City’s housing trust funds to help build three affordable housing developments already in the planning pipeline, officials said.
They include "the preservation of 40 affordable residences in the Pico neighborhood and the construction of new affordable housing for young adults and other persons experiencing homelessness."
“Affordable housing, always a precious resource, has become even more necessary as greater numbers of our community suffer the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic," said Mayor Sue Himmelrich.
"We are pleased that the state recognizes us as a partner in our collective pursuit to address California’s affordability crisis," Himmelrich said, adding that the contribution to the trust fund "will offer stability to Santa Monicans.”
A State-mandated goal requires Santa Monica to build 8,874 new housing units, two-thirds of them affordable, over the next eight years ("City Council Begins Clearing Path for Nearly 9,000 New Housing Units," March 12, 2020).
In an effort to meet the mandate, the City Council last August fast-tracked new affordable housing Downtown ("Santa Monica Council Approves Measures to Spur New Housing," August 26, 2020).
Three new slow-growth Councilmembers -- Phil Brock, Oscar de la Torre and Christine Parra -- have indicated they would likely challenge the state mandate.
Next Tuesday, the Council will take up a proposal by Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmembers Kristin McCowan and Kevin McKeown to explore ways to build more affordable housing without relying mainly on market rate developers.
The proposals include building affordable housing on government and non-profit sites and discouraging commercial development sites where housing can be built ("Councilmembers Float Ways to Build More Affordable Housing in Santa Monica," February 18, 2021).
The State awards announced Friday "reflect Santa Monica’s commitment to affordable housing," said Andy Agle, director of the City’s Community Services Department.
The funding "will help preserve existing housing and bring more affordable residences to the community,” Agle said.
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