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City of Santa Monica Considers Using Grant Funds for Homeless Apartments in Venice


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 17, 2017 -- The City of Santa Monica is considering the one-time use of up to $500,000 in federal block-grant funds for an affordable apartment project in Venice for the homeless, according to a report from the City's housing manager.

The City’s federal Community Development Block Grant funds would be spent to rehabilitate 14 existing affordable units at 102 Navy Street, one block south of the Santa Monica border.

In return, Venice Community Housing (the nonprofit provider) is agreeing to set aside three of the apartments for Santa Monica homeless individuals, the report by Santa Monica’s Housing Manager, Barbara Collins, said.

“A Santa Monica investment in this affordable housing would facilitate the regional ‘fair share’ strategy regarding homelessness, while also directly benefiting vulnerable persons homeless in Santa Monica,” Collins wrote.

The proposal goes before the City Housing Commission at its Thursday meeting for discussion and possible action.

Its 4:30 pm. meeting is at the Ken Edwards Center, 1527 4th Street. The commission is advisory only.

In her report to the commissioners, Collins cited a significant cost-benefit ratio to the City from the project.

She said the City would spend approximately $167,000 per apartment -- compared to the $400,000 to $600,000 per-unit cost of subsidizing the acquiring and rehabilitation of such apartments in Santa Monica.

It also would be less than the $300,000 to $400,000 price tag to subsidize newly constructed apartments, her report said.

Sants Monica’s homeless population leaped by 26 percent this year, to 921 people, most of whom were without shelter ("Santa Monica's Homeless Population Highest in a Decade," May 10, 2017).

The hike reflected a 23 percent jump in Los Angeles County’s homeless population, which totals more than 57,000 people.

“The scale of the regional homeless crisis has pushed Santa Monica’s local homeless system beyond its capacity to meet growing demand,” Collins said.

The Navy Street property was built in 1994 and financed by loans from the City of Los Angeles ($692,000), the State of California ($398,500) and tax credit equity ($428,247), the report said.

It was ground-leased by the City of Los Angeles to Venice Community Housing for 55 years at $1 per year.

Now 23 years old, the building needs rehabilitation.

Mainly, the City’s block grant funds would be used to help replace the roof, boiler, electronic access system and exterior doors and to install solar panels and attic insulation.

The rehab work also includes painting the exterior and completely renovating the bathrooms and kitchens.

CDBG funds, Collins said, have traditionally been” targeted for the preservation and rehabilitation of existing housing occupied by low-income households.

“Therefore, the proposed use of CDBG funds for the Navy Street rehabilitation would be an eligible and appropriate use of the funds,” she said.


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