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Carlsbad to give financial assistance for rehabilitation project

CARLSBAD — Plans to loan a private developer $7.4 million in financial assistance to purchase and rehabilitate Barrio properties is underway. 

Described as an affordable housing partnership, the city will loan monies to C&C Development and Irvine Housing Opportunities so it may acquire 21 duplexes, totaling 42 units, located on Magnolia Avenue, Harding Street and Carol Place. The single story properties sit on 3.9 acres.

The developer plans to obtain the property in February 2013.

“The private development partnership intends to acquire the duplexes, make health and safety repairs and then rent-restrict all of the units to provide affordable housing for lower income households; the partnership, then plans to acquire some additional properties, as available, and hopefully within 3 to 5 years to demolish the existing units and construct a larger rental project of 140 or more units on the property,” said Debbie Fountain, housing and neighborhood services director. “The partnership requested financial assistance from the City of Carlsbad to initially purchase the property and rent-restrict it until such time as a new project could be designed and permitted.”

The current development, Fountain said, consists of 42 existing rental units, which house two bedrooms and one bathroom.

The duplexes were built in 1953.

Although they need rehabilitation, Fountain said the property has been rented out on an ongoing basis.

“Initially there will be minor repairs completed to each unit to ensure health and safety issues are addressed,” she said. “Over time, additional maintenance and repairs will be completed on the units until such time as the units are demolished and the site is prepared for a new construction project; the developer will proceed immediately with designing and obtaining required permits to construct a new larger, rental project on the property.”

It’s estimated that it will take roughly three to five years to obtain permits and complete the new construction.

Fountain added that the council did approve moving forward immediately with the design and permitting for a new larger project.

It’s estimated that the acquisition and repairs will vary from $8.5 million to $9 million. Fountain said that the larger apartment project, with 140 or more units for lower income households, will cost around $41 million.

“The $7.4 million will be disbursed from the City’s Housing Trust Fund which are funds set-aside specifically for affordable housing for low income households,” Fountain said. She added, “The Housing Trust Fund had a balance of $18.3 million available at the time the financial assistance request was considered by the Council.”

Fountain wants people to know that the fund receives monies through housing impact and in-lieu fees, loan repayments, housing credit purchases and other sources specifically used for affordable housing for low-income households.

Kristina Ray, communications manager for the City of Carlsbad said there remains a great need for affordable housing at all income levels in Carlsbad, especially for low-income households.

“However, the financing for these efforts is often complex and can be costly,” Ray said. “Public subsidies are nearly always necessary; even though debate is common about the amount of public subsidies appropriate for these projects, there is broad support for the public purpose served by these types of projects.”

According to Fountain, in addition to affordable housing, the project will also physically enhance a deteriorating neighborhood in the historic Barrio neighborhood and provide diversity in housing.

“It will also address social issues in the area such as those caused by crime and poverty, by enforcing rules, having an on-site manager, increasing disposable income through reduced rents, and providing economic development opportunities to enhance the quality of life for residents living in the units,” Fountain said.