LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – The California State Treasurer says the owners of a Van Nuys housing complex are attempting to prematurely drop affordable housing units for which they have already accepted taxpayer support.

State Treasurer John Chiang held a news conference outside the complex in the 15000 block of Sherman Way Wednesday to bring attention to what he calls a shortage of affordable housing across California.

Chiang says that in 2001, the previous owners of the complex received more than $23 million in tax exempt bonds to renovate it in exchange for designating 79 of the 290 apartments affordable housing units for the next 55 years.

However, Chiang says, the new owners are suing the state, claiming 15 years of discounted rents is enough. Now, the owners want everyone to pay full price.

“They’re not going to get away with it,” Chiang said.

Retired marketing executive Henry Perrin has been living at the complex for 21 years. He says he is fortunate because he can afford to pay the full rent, but some of his low income neighbors are only able to live here because they qualify for affordable housing. Perrin says many of the low income tenants are in their 70s and 80s and couldn’t afford to stay.

“They’ll be on the street or living in poverty,” Perrin told CBS2.

A father with three children who has lived at the complex for 10 years told CBS2 he qualifies for Section 8 housing, but if he is forced to pay full market rent, he and his family would be out on the street.

An attorney who represents the building owners told CBS2 he cannot comment because the case is tied up in civil court.

Chiang says the state and the Los Angeles City Attorney will fight in court to keep the affordable apartments here available to those who need them.

“We are here today to say the state and the city are vigorously fighting back,” Chiang said.

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