Affordable Housing Industry Celebrates 20th Anniversary
2010-07-23 · By Editor
The region’s affordable housing industry will gather Tuesday evening, July 27 to commemorate 20 years of service to low-income families, seniors and the disabled. The City of San Diego’s Housing Trust Fund and the San Diego Housing Federation were both formed in 1990 to launch affordable housing development in the region.
The celebration will be held at the Coronado Community Center, 1845 Strand Way, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Information and tickets are available on the San Diego Housing Federation website. All advocates for the creation of additional affordable homes in the region are welcome to attend.
“In the 1980s, federal support for affordable housing development was reduced by 80%. Previously, the federal government was almost the exclusive provider of homes for low-income families and seniors,” said Evan Becker, president of the San Diego Housing Federation Board of Directors and executive director at that time of the San Diego Housing Commission. “In 1989 there were over 50,000 households in San Diego that were paying more than 50% of their income on housing costs.”
A broad coalition of 40 organizations came together to form the San Diego Housing Trust Fund coalition which advocated for a local housing trust fund to make up for the loss of federal support and meet the needs of the community. This coalition was successful in convincing the City of San Diego to implement and fund San Diego Housing Trust Fund.
However, the members of coalition recognized that here was an insufficient number of nonprofit affordable housing developers to undertake the development of the units to be financed from the trust fund. In 1990, they decided to form an organization to help build the capacity to develop more affordable housing and called it the Nonprofit Federation for Housing & Community Development. It is now known as the San Diego Housing Federation.
Since the Federation’s inception, the number of nonprofit developers working in the region has grown from six to 24 through support, mentoring, education, conferences, and timely communication among the members about development, financing and regulatory issues. A number of for-profit firms also specialize in affordable housing production in the county.
The annual production of affordable housing was three developments and 200 affordable units per year in San Diego County through the mid 1990’s. Since 1997, more than 12 projects and 1,336 high quality affordable homes have been developed annually, now totaling more than 37,000 affordable homes and apartments in San Diego County.
The City of San Diego’s Housing Trust Fund is credited with the creation of 5,600 new affordable rental homes, 2,000 rehabbed rental homes, 550 transitional housing beds, and grants to 1,200 first-time homebuyers during its first 20 years. In this process, 10,000 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs were created. One of the key contributions of the Trust Fund has been using $81.7 million from the Trust Fund to leverage $900 million in capital for the creation of homes that would otherwise have been impossible.
“Unfortunately, in spite of the growth and success of the industry here, a substantial gap remains between many workers’ salaries and the income needed for housing. The need for affordable homes for low-income working families and seniors in the region is still far beyond what local affordable housing developers can provide,” Becker noted. “And, even worse, is the fact that there are 8500 individuals and families who are homeless in the region.”
“Purchasing a home remains unaffordable for many key community workers despite historically low mortgage interest rates and steep drops in home prices. For many workers in San Diego County the dream of homeownership will never be realized. Fortunately, the apartments created by Federation members provide beautiful, sustainable and affordable homes – and that’s something to celebrate,” Becker said.
Former City Council members who voted to create the Housing Trust Fund and other early advocates for the creation of the Trust Fund and Housing Federation will be among the attendees at the anniversary event.
The San Diego Housing Federation is a coalition of nonprofit and other organizations and individuals working together to produce quality affordable housing and community development for lower income households.