Affordable Housing: How Jesús is helping build a city with reachable rents

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Jesús practices what he preaches — the value of living in the same community in which you work. He’s even been willing to make sacrifices for that to happen, foregoing his house in a more affordable part of Los Angeles County in favor of a Santa Monica apartment with a rental rate that’s higher than his mortgage. He said the move involved a fair bit of sticker shock.

Jesús also says the move has been worth it. He’s traded in his hour-long car commute for a 5-minute walk to work. The extra time in his day means he can duck into Espresso Cielo for a cup of coffee or go for a stroll through the Farmers Market with his new wife.

Of course, affording rent in Santa Monica is a distant dream for many of the people who come to work here each day. Teachers, restaurant employees, nurses, gardeners, and other workers are often required to spend hours of their day commuting. This significantly cuts down on quality of life and time they might be spending with their families or pursuing goals outside of work.

This doesn’t sit well with Jesús. As Director of Housing Development at Community Corporation of Santa Monica, he firmly believes that people should have the opportunity to live in the same community in which they work.

The City of Santa Monica agrees with Jesús.

We also believe that opening up housing in our city to people across income tax brackets will build more inclusion and diversity — values that will only serve to strengthen our city.

Live Where You Work

The Community Corporation of Santa Monica — a.k.a. “Community Corp.” is a non-profit that owns, operates, and develops affordable housing units for residents of Santa Monica. Affordable housing is government-funded permanent housing based on an individual’s income. California requires cities to build a certain amount of affordable housing units each year, and Santa Monica is one of the few cities that not only meets that requirement, but exceeds it too. And according to Jesús, Community Corp. has no plans of slowing down: “We want to continue to do that by building housing that’s near transit, near parks, and that has sustainability measures that will bring down utility costs.”

At time of writing, Community Corp. owns 1,700 units in 100 different locations across Santa Monica. It’s the largest non-profit property owner in the city.  

The Importance of Access

It’s not just about living where you work. It’s also about living in a community with an abundance of resources. Santa Monica is rich in culture, education, public parks, and social services, and living here means you get access to all those resources. Increasing the amount of affordable housing in the community means that everyone can benefit from these resources — not just those who fall in a certain income tax bracket.

Community Corp. also takes access to a better life one step further by working on-site to connect families to educational, employment, and healthcare services. Jesús says, “We have after-school tutoring services onsite at many of our locations where students can come in and get tutoring services where they live. That’s maybe the biggest thing we do in terms of services for residents, connecting children to learning opportunities.”  

Opportunities for Affordable Housing

At this point, there’s still not enough affordable housing available to meet everyone’s needs, but Jesús, along with Community Corp., are continuing to do all they can to increase those numbers.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in getting affordable housing, you can put your name on the Housing Opportunity List each June or January. Visit www.communitycorp.org for more information. If you or someone you know is at risk of losing housing, the Santa Monica Housing Division is your first stop. Call 310.458.8743 or visit smgov.net/departments/HED.   

And join us at weare.santamonica.gov to stay up to date on what we’re doing to encourage a diverse and inclusive community through affordable housing.