Confronting San Diego’s Lack of Affordable Housing

SMPS San Diego thanks McCul­lough Land­scape Archi­tec­ture for spon­sor­ing the event and our year­ly spon­sors The San Diego Dai­ly Tran­script, Mike Tor­rey Pho­tog­ra­phy, and Scant­ech Graph­ics.

Many of us relat­ed to the issues pre­sent­ed at the Sep­tem­ber 18th lun­cheon, “Afford­able Hous­ing in San Diego, What is It and Why We Need It.” It is not news that fam­i­lies have near-insur­mount­able obsta­cles as they try to save for a down pay­ment on their first home or find afford­able rentals. Three pan­elists, along with mod­er­a­tor Doug Austin of AVRP Stu­dios, offered insight and solu­tions that was fol­lowed by an infor­ma­tive Q&A.

Affordable Housing panel

Afford­able Hous­ing pan­el

The first pan­elist, Peter Den­nehy of Myers Research, pre­sent­ed facts that illus­trate the hous­ing chal­lenges our coun­ty faces:

  • Aver­age cost of a home is $500,000
  • Cur­rent build­ing rate is very slow
  • Afford­abil­i­ty is dis­ap­pear­ing for many
  • As hous­ing costs con­tin­ue to climb, incomes remain stag­nant
  • It’s dif­fi­cult for buy­ers to qual­i­fy for mort­gages
  • Rents are on the rise
  • We need job growth, there­fore more hous­ing

After­ward, Anne Wil­son, Senior VP of Com­mu­ni­ty Hous­ing Works (CHW) not­ed that HUD (Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment) cre­at­ed the term “afford­able hous­ing” in the 1970s to gath­er sta­tis­tics on the ratio of income to hous­ing costs. HUD ini­tial­ly calculated10% of a household’s income should go toward rent or a mort­gage. Sub­se­quent­ly, the amount increased to 30% and in San Diego Coun­ty that per­cent­age has risen to a whop­ping 50% for many peo­ple. The result­ing increase affects edu­ca­tion, busi­ness, the econ­o­my, neigh­bor­hood sta­bil­i­ty and crime, not to men­tion the impact on the envi­ron­ment. As an exam­ple: if you live 50 or 60 miles from your job, com­mut­ing those dis­tances great­ly increas­es car­bon emis­sions. Anne list­ed some of CHW’s find­ings:

  • Cal­i­for­nia has a deficit of 1,000,000 homes; San Diego’s deficit is 100,000
  • Land costs are dri­ving up prices
  • Incomes need to be increased
  • A need for reduc­tion of build­ing costs

CHW offers an abun­dance of com­mu­ni­ty-based ser­vices that help fam­i­lies buy or rent afford­able hous­ing. CHW are also devel­op­ers, build­ing afford­able hous­ing for work­ing fam­i­lies. Many of their projects are LEED-cer­ti­fied, includ­ing Kalos, Poway Vil­las, and LaCos­ta Palo­ma. These projects enhance neigh­bor­hoods, help build eco­nom­ic sus­tain­abil­i­ty and give fam­i­lies access to hous­ing. Not to men­tion, the projects bring jobs to our A/E/C com­mu­ni­ty.

Arnul­fo Man­riquez, Pres­i­dent and CEO of MAAC (Met­ro­pol­i­tan Area Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee), shared his vision for San Diego’s under­served fam­i­lies. Since 1965, MAAC’s Pil­lars of Ser­vice include pro­grams for afford­able hous­ing and help­ing fam­i­lies work toward eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty. The non­prof­it man­ages 845 apart­ments with 200 more com­ing soon. The MAAC orga­ni­za­tion devel­ops prop­er­ties, work­ing close­ly with archi­tects to insure that the struc­ture will be sus­tain­able for 55 years or more.

MAAC’s has a dif­fer­ent approach when bring­ing afford­able hous­ing to a neigh­bor­hood. They involve the com­mu­ni­ty at the grass­roots lev­el that dis­pels the notion of “not in my back­yard.” When res­i­dents and busi­ness­es learn that these projects bring great eco­nom­ic and social val­ue to their lives, they under­stand and accept the over­all val­ue to the com­mu­ni­ty.


SMPS San Diego chap­ter pres­i­dent, Cather­ine McCul­lough

Cather­ine McCul­lough, the chapter’s new pres­i­dent, con­clud­ed the lun­cheon with a reminder to attend Lever­age Your Bev­er­age com­ing up on Octo­ber 9. Be sure to mark your cal­en­dar and come social­ize with us.

Writ­ten and sub­mit­ted by Nanette New­bry, Prin­ci­pal, Cre­ative Direc­tor, Stu­dio 2055

Pho­tos by Mike Tor­rey Pho­tog­ra­phy, special­iz­ing in archi­tec­tur­al pho­tog­ra­phy. Mike’s images will be fea­tured at this year’s Orchids & Onions Awards Cer­e­mo­ny on Octo­ber 2nd.



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