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SANDAG targets Chula Vista for low-income housing

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Chula Vista's size and rapid growth rate have driven the need for low-income housing in the South County city. Meanwhile, new construction of affordable housing in Imperial Beach, National City and Coronado has been comparatively low.

The San Diego Association of Governments' (SANDAG) Regional Housing Needs Assessment declared the need for almost 7,000 low- or very low-income units in Chula Vista for the 2005-2010 housing cycle, the second largest share allocated to a county jurisdiction behind the city of San Diego.

Based on land-use plans, demand for housing, public facilities, suitable sites, commuting patterns, employment projections and percentage of lower income households, the assessment identified the need for only about 100 additional low-income units in the rest of South County.

Recent affordable-housing developments in Chula Vista have included several attached single-family projects and a host of new apartment units, many of which are reserved for seniors.

Mar Brisa, in Chula Vista's master-planned San Miguel Ranch community, will include 70 units classified as affordable -- for first-time homebuyers whose incomes do not exceed $44,150 for a family of two. The neighborhood project will also have 45 units reserved for moderate-income households -- for those whose incomes are no more than $71,000, for a family of two. In June, 109 applicants competed in a lottery for the moderate-income homes, which were developed by Trimark Pacific Homes. The first of the homes will close in December.

Mar Brisa in the San Miguel Ranch community includes 70 affordable housing units and 45 moderate-income homes.

Seniors on Broadway, a 41-unit rental complex that will serve low- and very-low income seniors, will begin construction in September, according to Chula Vista Community Development Specialist Diem Do. The project recently received a $252,000 Affordable Housing Program grant through Mississippi Valley Life Insurance to fund programs geared for senior living. Monthly rent will range between $385 and $640.

Chula Vista awards federal HOME Investment Partnership grant money to help developers finance new affordable-housing projects and to assist first-time homebuyers with down payments. The city also advertises its 32 mobile-home and trailer-park communities, which feature over 4,500 spaces at low costs.

In Coronado, a 30-unit affordable housing project for seniors is in the planning phase, according to Pam Willis, assistant executive director for the city's Community Development Agency.

The project, to be developed by the San Diego Interfaith Housing Foundation, would be located on the corner of Sixth Street and Orange Avenue, adjacent to Spreckels Park. Willis expects construction to begin in about a year.

The development would be Coronado's first new affordable housing project since 1996, Willis said.

In National City, where two-thirds of the city -- or 2,000 acres -- is zoned for redevelopment, the Community Development Commission wants to funnel proceeds into low-income housing projects.

"We hope to parlay revenues that come out of downtown redevelopment into affordable housing," CDC Deputy Director of Redevelopment Byron Estes said.

Although most of the commission's thrust has been on market-rate units, it has committed $2.7 million to an as-yet-unnamed, tax-credit funded, affordable housing project for seniors, which should break ground this year, according to Estes.

The commission is also planning to expand the senior village in Morgan Towers, and the city is forming a task force to discuss policy options, like inclusionary housing.

As a redeveloping city, National City is in a transitional period, Estes said, since most units were at one point affordable to most residents.

In Imperial Beach, affordable housing efforts remain focused on rehabilitation projects, according to city Redevelopment Coordinator Jerry Selby. SANDAG assigned the city the smallest share of low-income housing in South County, and the second least number of units in San Diego County.

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