Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

Santa Monica Real Estate Company ROQUE & MARK Co.

Home Special Reports Archive Links The City Commerce About Contacts Editor Send PR

Council Approves $1 Million Per Unit Homeless Housing Project


Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Welcome to Santa Monica.  Good Vibes Start Here.

Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 434-4000



By Jorge Casuso

April 10, 2024 -- The City Council on Tuesday approved a 122-unit apartment building for the homeless that will cost more than $1 million per unit, making it one of the most expensive affordable housing projects in the nation.

Developed by EAH Housing, the project on prime City owned land at the former site of Parking Structure 3 Downtown will be financed with Federal, State and County funding, loans, tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.

Projected to be completed in 2030, the five-story development will include 122 apartments, 50 of them for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) residents, 116 underground parking spaces and a 19,000-square-foot grocery store on the ground floor.

The 100 percent affordable housing project will include 44 studios, 16 one-bedroom apartments, 31 two-bedroom and 31 three-bedroom apartments, with the larger units boosting the total cost to $123,091,277.

Councilmembers acknowledged the eye-popping cost of the project. "I have rarely seen a project with this price per unit," said Councilmember Caroline Torsis. "It's only going to get higher."

Councilmember Jesse Zwick noted that the cost was driven up by the 62 two-and three bedroom units. "We could max out the density and put in 250 studios, but I don't think we, as a council, or as a city want that."

The Council also could choose to "strip all the labor protections" and "environmental protections" and "all the parking," Zwick said, but "we've identified all these things as priorities.

"These are policy decisions that are bigger than this project, policy decisions that we as a council have asked for."

In addition to the $1,008,945 per unit construction cost, Councilmembers were taken aback by the lengthy construction time-line, with groundbreaking scheduled for November 2027 and construction expected to be completed in early 2030.

"We are talking about people living on the streets," said Councilmember Gleam Davis. "I don't understand why it takes so long."

"For me the most important thing is to get a roof over their heads," Davis said. "These are not units, they are homes."

Welton Jordan, Chief Real Estate Development Officer for EAH Housing, attributed the lengthy delay to the complex financing and approval process.

EAH currently has ten new housing developments under construction, Jordan told the Council. "So we've done this a lot," he said. "It's very expensive to build buildings."

Most of the comments before the unanimous vote was cast were from Councilmembers backed by Santa Monica's liberal establishment. The Change faction on the Council weighed in only briefly.

Mayor Phil Brock was concerned about the lengthy process and requested that the facade "look like it's a great building" and not a low-income housing project.

While Councilmember Oscar de la Torre sought assurances that workers would be paid a prevailing wage and locals hired and that the first-floor market would serve the surrounding community.

In concluding the discussion, Torosis noted the Council needed to be thorough in questioning the developer and the City's planning staff.

"We have to ask these questions we have to be responsible stewards of our public resources," she said. "The most important thing is to build housing for people in the community who are unhoused."

According to staff, 70 of the 122 units will go to those on Santa Monica's affordable housing waiting list, which gives priority to those with emergency housing vouchers (EHV), most of them homeless ("Homeless to Be Given Priority for Low-Income Housing," May 12, 2022).

The path to Tuesday's Council vote had already been a lengthy one.

In 2019, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued to develop affordable housing on the site, and in January 2022, the Council voted to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with EAH to build housing targeted for homeless individuals on the City owned parcel.

The developer was selected based "on the team’s depth of experience in the areas of permanent supportive housing, larger developments, supportive services, and property management," City officials said.

Under EAH's proposal, the developer would build and manage the property and "all residents would be supported with services to ensure housing retention and good-neighbor actions" ("Demolition of Parking Structure 3 to Start This Month," February 2, 2022).

In awarding the contract, the Council directed staff and the development team "to work collaboratively on ways to move the affordable housing forward as quickly as possible."

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2024 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures