The developer wants to create a $ 1 million down payment fund for teacher housing in San Diego. But, there is a catch.


A real estate developer wants to create a new down payment fund for teachers, but will only give the money if their project is approved.

Santa Monica developer New Urban West said Thursday it would donate $ 1 million to a new fund to help teachers afford homes anywhere in San Diego County. But, the release of the money depends on the approval of The Trails at Carmel Mountain Ranch by the San Diego City Council, probably in September.

His project, The Trails, would transform a closed golf course on Carmel Mountain into a 1,200-unit apartment and townhouse project. He has faced opposition from the neighboring community for two years who say the project is too dense for their neighborhood.

There are down payment assistance programs for low-income buyers all over the country, but the Teachers Program is probably the first of its kind offered by a developer focusing only on one type of worker. There are national programs designed to help teachers, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Good Neighbor Next Door program, which sells homes it already owns at 50% of appraised value.

New Urban West has already discussed the project with several associations, which are enthusiastic about the fund despite the conditions attached to it. The idea is that the first million dollars – which wouldn’t go far in San Diego’s high-cost housing market – is seed money that will hopefully lead to other developers and philanthropists.

“The idea of ​​this organization saying, ‘We’re only going to make an investment this way or that way,’ is quite common in philanthropy,” said Richardo Flores, executive director of LISC San Diego.

LISC, which stands for Local Initiatives Support Corporation, is a non-profit organization that strives to create financial opportunities for underserved areas with subsidized housing, economic development and education programs. She has started discussions with the developer to create the teachers’ housing fund.

New Urban West Project Director Jonathan Frankel said the reason he couldn’t put money into the fund unconditionally was because he needed the money from The Trails sales to be able to clear the fund. the million dollars.

“Obviously, if we don’t have a chance to get the program approved, we won’t go ahead” with the fund, he said. “If there are no houses for sale, we will not be able to generate the funds. “

Many details of the program need to be worked out, but Frankel anticipates – if all goes according to plan – teachers could apply in fall 2022.

Despite a regional and national push for housing in California, New Urban West has made many concessions to appease the community. He created a 50 foot green buffer zone between the project and the existing homes in the community; and a 6.5 mile trail system on the old golf cart path.

Project plans call for 120 subsidized rental apartments.

Gary London, housing analyst in San Diego, said it has been a tradition in San Diego for there to be give-and-take between a developer and a community – and it is the developer’s responsibility to make the concessions. .

But, he said, opposition to new projects often has a back door to raising housing costs. He said this may add time to the project and create uncertainty over rights.

“This gets to the heart of the matter: it’s what keeps housing construction in San Diego from happening and it’s what drives up house prices,” he said.

Troy Daum, the founder of CMR United, a group of 500 that opposes development, said the teachers’ program looked like a bribe and was spurious. He said that if New Urban West was genuinely concerned with affordability, it would lower the price of anything it builds (prices are yet to be set) and have more units for sale instead of rentals. At present, the project provides for 60 percent apartments and 40 percent townhouses.

Daum said he regretted that San Diego seemed eager to open up an open space, suggesting developers instead use failed retail businesses for housing instead of old golf courses. He argued that New Urban West hasn’t changed The Trails much since its initial proposal.

“There are no give and take,” he said.

Frankel said they came up with the idea of ​​focusing on teachers after many community members concerned about The Trails said they were frustrated that teachers could not afford to live in communities in which they were working on. He said he hoped the developer-led fund could become a model for other professions.

In addition to HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door program, there is another national effort for educators called the Teacher Next Door program which provides down payment assistance of up to $ 10,681.

An analysis of the wages of workers in San Diego County from 2008 to 2018 by the San Diego Union-Tribune, after adjusting for inflation, found that elementary teachers saw wage gains lower than inflation, with an 11% drop in real wages. Their average salary was $ 67,020 in 2008, rising to $ 71,990 in 2018.

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Home buying programs for teachers

Teacher next door:

HUD Good Neighbor Next Door:

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