More High-End Rental Projects May Generate More Affordable-Housing Funds

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — Brett Thompson never thought he’d still be living with roommates in his twenties. But in Newport Beach, it’s all he can afford.

“It’s a little bit ridiculous,” Thompson says. “I think it’s tough for people in my generation.”

He’s one of the lucky ones. He found an older more affordable building without amenities. But a construction boom of luxury apartments popping up in Irvine offer fitness classes, pools and star-gazing decks. One bedrooms are already pre-leasing for up to $3000 a month.

“The cost of living just keeps going up and up and up,” renter Starlyn Walker said.

As a single mom Walker isn’t surprised Southern California is in the throes of the biggest construction boom in 25 years. She says without two incomes, it’s impossible for her to buy. Leaving her at the mercy of a skyrocketing rental market.

“My rent was $2,800 and it was only a two bedroom townhouse. My mortgage in Georgia was $1100 and it was 2,900 square feet.”

Denise Bennett was forced to rent a room in a Lake Forest home, when she could no longer afford her Costa Mesa studio.

“I just moved from an apartment that was less than 300 square feet for $1,420 a month,” Bennet said.

Right now Orange County has 81 projects in Santa Ana. The executive director of the Kennedy Commission who works with Orange County cities to create affordable housing says the builder of one project agreed to give Santa Ana $15,000 per unit to avoid building new low-income units in the complex.  The city then takes that money to build low-income housing elsewhere

“Unfortunately in Orange County when you’re talking about low-income, someone making $70,000 is low-income,” Cesar Covarrubias, of  the Kennedy Commission, said.

Covarrubias says with every new development, builders in Irvine and the south coast metro area have given millions of dollars so cities can build homes low wage families can afford.

It’s a start, but he fears if more cities don’t get on board. More families may be forced to live out of the county or on the streets.

“A lot of these families are homeless because of a lack of housing supply at their income level.”

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