I-Team in-depth reveals who is building local affordable housing and who’s not
It’s becoming harder than ever to find a place for people to call their own. Rising costs have made home ownership, or an apartment, too expensive for more people struggling to deal with higher costs for everything.
An I-Team in-depth report shows how some local cities are doing more than others to increase the number of affordable and other housing units. This comes as the demand for housing surges here and elsewhere throughout the state.
LaDawn Brister, a single Mom of two, has been looking for her own home– unsuccessfully– for 4 years now.
“It hasn’t been easy for you trying to find a place you can call your own here,” Jeff Stahl said to LaDawn Brister. She replied, “It has not been easy. It’s been a long process.”
Brister has been unable to find a home she can afford due to high prices and rising interest rates. But the grocery clerk wants to stay in Palm Desert where she works and where her boys attend school.
Brister said, “In this economy, it’s definitely not easy to do.”
She is among 14 families who are now getting ready to build their own homes with the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition in Palm Desert with their shared labor.
“Especially in this market, in this town,” said Liz Hemze on home ownership, “It’s really out of reach unless you’re in a high-income bracket.”
Joe and Liz Hemze are also ready to build their own home for their six kids who range in age from 4 to 17 and are looking forward to having their own home.
“They’re really happy about it. They’re excited,” said Liz.
Joe added, "Every kid will have a room to stay in, comfortable.”
Jeff Stahl asked them, “What’s it been like feeling like you’re priced out of the market?” Liz responded, ”A little frustrated. A little hopeless.”
California requires local governments to plan for and promote new housing at four income levels: very low-, low-, moderate- and above-moderate. And California Attorney General Rob Bonta has hinted at lawsuits against cities that fail to meet the state quotas.
See Riverside County affordable housing income guidelines HERE:
Jeff Stahl requested numbers and details on affordable and other housing developments from our local cities. Here are some highlights:
The City of Indian Wells Housing Authority is looking at locating affordable housing along Highway 111, just west of Mountain View Villas which is another affordable housing development, according to City Manager Chris Freeland.
“We know we need more land to meet all of our affordable housing needs that are required under State RHNA rules,” said Freeland adding, “As such, the City recently began the process to acquire a 34 acre parcel at the corner of Miles and Warner Trail through eminent domain.” Freeland says a staff report was approved by the Housing Authority approval on October 8.” It’s still early in its development and subject to change, Freeland said.
Read more HERE:
The project will first require paving the Whitewater wash channel with concrete along Highway 111 to protect it from erosion. This project is planned for this year, according to Freeland.
The city is also looking at affordable housing across the channel closer to Warner Trail in cooperation with neighboring resort properties. “They need staff,” said Freeland. “They’re struggling right now so they’re looking for some workforce development housing and if they’re a partner of ours we think it could make a really good program of ours. And help their employment issues,” Freeland added.
La Quinta is acquiring two properties along the Highway 111 corridor for future projects, according to City Manager Jon McMillen. One is on a piece of land at the northeast corner of Dune Palms and Highway 111. A second property is just east of the BestBuy shopping center on the north side of Highway 111.
McMillen said, “We would be working with affordable housing developers to pull a project like that together.” He said the city also recently purchased the Dune Palms Mobile Home Park during the pandemic to preserve affordable housing.
A few projects are underway in Indio including the Arroyo Crossing Apartments off Jefferson, just east of Costco. This project consists of seven rental apartment buildings, each at three stories, with a phase one total of 184 residential units. Phase two has 216 units. It’s set to open at the end of 2024.
The Avenue 44 Apartments is a development of 180 units on 5.7 acres of land on the north side of Avenue 44, just west of Golf Center Parkway. It should begin construction in October, according to Indio’s City Manager Bryan Montgomery and be completed by October 2025 assuming all approvals by the City and receipt of state tax credits financing.
A third project is by LS Management and a potential “Attainable Housing Project,” according to Montgomery. He says this conceptual project of 384 units would be built along Highway 111 just west of Dr. Carreon Boulevard across from Mathis Brothers.
This could begin construction next year dependent on approvals this year. Liberty Star Management would be the developer and operator of the project. Montgomery said, “We do prefer to use the word “attainable” housing, instead of “affordable.” The reality is that these housing units will serve teachers, public safety staff, retail workers, and folks of all income types that are struggling with high housing costs.”
The city says there are two to three others also in the planning stages, along with a county project off Monroe Street behind the County building there.
The City of Coachella is tackling housing with the completion of three new single-family communities and new affordable housing options. Affordable housing will also continue expanding with the development of the Tripoli Mixed-Use Project which will supply 108 apartment units and four retail units on the northeast corner of Cesar Chavez Street and Baghdad Ave, Placita Dolores Huerta with 110 unit apartments at Bagdad Avenue, and 152 apartment units at Villa Verde on the southwest corner of Calle Verde and Calle Techa.
See plans for Coachella housing developments HERE:
Palm Springs is moving ahead on at least 3 affordable housing projects– the Monarch Apartments off Indian Canyon, Mid 23, breaking ground this summer with transition housing, and DAP’s 192 affordable housing units by next year.
“We’re also working with possibly or giving away some of our city-owned lots in the Desert Highlands Gateway Estates neighborhood,” said Mayor Grace Garner who added this would be, “giving homeowner opportunities to people who rent in the area. Rentals, but with home ownership possibilities.”
DESERT HOT SPRINGS
The City of Desert Hot Springs has a 600-unit affordable housing project in the development pipeline right now. It's called Green Day Village and has an entitlement application currently under review.
The city also provided KESQ with a list of affordable housing projects that have been completed, part of its Affordable Housing Database.
A city spokeswoman also provided a list of 102 homes completed by the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) in Desert Hot Springs while adding that some other affordable housing projects are currently underway. They are CVHC “Self-Help”/Sweat Equity homes where the people who eventually live in the homes help build them along with their neighbors.
The City of Rancho Mirage says it has no affordable housing projects currently in the development or building pipeline.
A statement from Rancho Mirage said:
“Even though there are no applications currently submitted for the development of affordable housing, the city is and has been in compliance.” The statement added the city’s most recent Housing Element update was certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development in August and that Rancho Mirage was one of the first in the Coachella Valley to have its element certified by the State.”
Read Rancho Mirage’s most recent certified housing element HERE:
Representatives with Cathedral City also said the city has no current developments underway. City Manager Charlie McClendon said a housing project for very low-income seniors is currently undergoing a major renovation. The Cathedral Palms project is a cooperative project with National CORE and Cathedral City. Also, the city’s new Veteran’s Village project has just opened with 60 units of affordable housing along with complete wrap-around services for formerly homeless veterans.
Read more information about the project HERE:
In Palm Desert, one of the latest developments to break ground, the Millennium Apartments, is going up just off Gerald Ford Drive on the city’s north side. It represents Palm Desert’s latest project to get underway as they try to increase the inventory of affordable and other housing developments. City leaders say they have nearly a thousand units of housing either under construction or under development.
The 330-unit Millennium Apartment development will consist of 80% market-rate units and 20% affordable units. No state subsidies are involved in this development.
“So for a developer who’s just coming into the market who doesn’t have a lot of local relationships or statewide politics, it’s really hard for us to get those subsidies,” said the developer Kassie Inness, Metonic Real Estate Solutions of Omaha, Nebraska.
A lack of subsidies makes it hard to build affordable housing which is what everyone says they want.
"So if Sacramento could just keep things in place for a couple years it would be a big help.”Palm Desert Mayor Kathleen Kelly
Palm Desert Mayor Kathleen Kelly agrees saying, “Absolutely, and what developers tell us more than anything else, they want predictability. So if Sacramento could just keep things in place for a couple years it would be a big help.”
A lot of work remains. According to the 2022 California Affordable Housing Needs Report, the state has more than doubled production of new affordable homes in the past 3 years but is only funding 16% of what it needs to meet its goals. That number drops to just 11% in Southern California.
Read more of the 2022 California Affordable Housing Needs report update HERE: