More Affordable Housing coming to Thousand Oaks

dosage times; font-size: 16px;”>By Daniel Gelman

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Another affordable housing community is coming to Los Feliz Drive in Thousand Oaks. The street runs parallel to Thousand Oaks Blvd. and Hillcrest Drive in one of the older sections of town. The 56 unit Los Feliz Apartments (working name) will house Section 8 voucher holders via the Area Housing Authority of Conejo Valley (AHACV) It will join the following affordable housing properties on the same street:

Bella Vista Apartments (Many Mansions)

Hacienda de Feliz (Many Mansions)

Leggett Court (Area Housing Authority)

Shadows Apartments (Low Income Section 42)

Phase One construction began in April 2013 with 36 units of one, two, and three bedroom apartments.  It should be completed in August 2014. Phase Two began in February 2014. It includes 20 two and three bedrooms units. The anticipated completion date is November 2014.

Before city redevelopment agencies were dissolved in 2012, cities were required by the state to spend 20% of their property tax revenues on affordable housing. They did this through a variety of partnerships with non-profits and quasi-governmental agencies. The city approached Area Housing with the idea for another development in 2006. The AHACV purchased the five existing properties on a 2.2 acre parcel of land, and in 2009, the city approved re-zoning for affordable housing.

The AHACV is a non-profit agency which receives federal money to administer “HUD,” (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) public housing hudprograms. Many Mansions, another non-profit based in Thousand Oaks does not report to HUD but it does provide housing to Section 8 voucher holders who receive them from AHACV.

The two phases of the Los Feliz Apartments were funded through slightly different channels. Phase One costs $21.9 million. Financing includes a $13.5 million loan from Bank of America, which will act as a limited partner with AHACV and receive federal tax credits for participating.

Phase Two costs $9.8 million. The money comes from a $5.4 million loan from Bank of America, and a partnership between AHACV and Merritt Community Capital Corporation. Merritt will receive federal tax credits for their investment. This system was created under the Tax Reform Act of 1986. It incentivizes private equity investment in affordable housing.

According to John Prescott, Community Development Director for the City of Thousand Oaks, “The city has provided financial assistance to the project, including $608,000 from the city’s federal Community Development Block Grant, $6.6 million in loans from the former redevelopment agency, and $2 million in loans from the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (offset by $1 million grant from State of California to the city’s trust fund).

The property will include underground parking, an on-site leasing office, live-in management, a playground, free high-speed internet, solar electricity, and sustainable building materials. With Section 8, the resident pays a percentage of their income to their landlord and the remainder comes from the federal government through AHACV.

According to Linda Fisher-Helton, Community Relations Manager for AHACV, extensive background checks are done on all Section 8 voucher holders. One does not have to be an American citizen, but they do have to be a legal resident. “Mixed families” are also allowed. Those are households which include citizens or qualified aliens and may include ineligible aliens. HUD and local public housing authorities may provide prorated assistance by reducing the family benefit by the proportion of non-qualified aliens in the household. One eligibility document expressed it this way:

“Housing assistance is available only to individuals who are U.S. citizens, U.S. national, or non-citizens that have eligible immigration status. In general citizens and nationals are required to submit only a signed declaration that claims their status. However, HUD regulations permit the AHA to request additional documentation of their status such as a passport. ” Douglas Tapking, Executive Director of the AHACV confirmed that there could be situations when a staff member uses their own discretion to require further documentation or run it by a supervisor.

The “Average Median Income,” (AMI) for a family of four in Ventura County is $88,700. Residents of the new apartments will be drawn from the 30%-60% of AMI income range. That means from $26,610 to $53,220 for a family. This will be the sixth property developed by Area Housing in Thousand Oaks. Although there will be no “case management” services, on-site resident services will include an after-school program, social activities, and workshops on topics like nutrition and healthcare.equal.housing

Linda Fisher-Helton expressed a desire to see affordable housing address the needs of young locals, in addition to seniors and families. “The young can’t afford to live here,” she said. She also mentioned the beauty of diversity. “A diverse community is a vibrant and interesting community.” But she agreed that young graduates often move away, live at home, or share apartments with multiple roommates rather than apply for affordable housing programs.

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Daniel Gelman has been a Reporter/Writer for several years, specializing in News, Business, Feature, and Op-Ed.

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