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It's a win-win for the city

Our View: Affordable housing

Posted: September 20, 2008 8:49 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

It was a great week for the city of Santa Clarita.

On Tuesday night, the City Council approved a $2.7 million loan to a nonprofit, faith-based organization to take over a Canyon Country apartment building and convert it to low-income housing.

It seems like a win-win to us.

Low-income residents of the Hidaway Apartments in Canyon Country will enjoy refurbished homes and a reduction in their rents.

Those residents of the complex who don't qualify for affordable housing will receive relocation assistance and 42 months of rent compensation.

Here's how it works: A professional relocation consultant helps the residents who can't stay at Hidaway find comparable housing. If the rent is higher they get 42 months (that's 3 1/2 years) of make-up-the-difference compensation.

For example, if the new apartment costs $1,200 a month instead of $1,000, the renters would receive $8,400 in compensation.

And the city gains 33 more affordable housing units. After last week's summit on workforce housing in the Santa Clarita Valley, the need for such residences is very clear.

There's no doubt that some higher-income people who are forced to move from Hidaway will find the experience disturbing, as we all find involuntary changes in our lives disturbing.

And there's also the valid concern, raised by a Signal columnists, that a warren of all-affordable housing units in the flatlands of Canyon Country could lead to problems.

But we must consider the alternative: If the nonprofit, faith-based group Mercy Housing California doesn't take over the 22-year-old complex, it almost certainly will go to a commercial venture that will no doubt oust everyone it can, overhaul the building and reopen it with considerably higher rents than are currently being charged.

Those are the choices. We think the Santa Clarita City Council made the right one when it agreed to the $2.7 million loan.

At the same time, we recognize this debate over a single 67-unit complex is carried on within the bigger-picture dilemma of affordable housing in the SCV.

We commend the Valley Industrial Association for addressing this issue; as noted during the Tuesday summit, failing to do so could hamper the economic growth of the Santa Clarita Valley.

On Wednesday, at a luncheon attended by more than 300 local residents, Santa Clarita City Council members got a chance to present their accomplishments over the past year.

It was a long list.

Mayor Bob Kellar had the pleasure of reporting that crime is down significantly in the city.

Councilman Frank Ferry pointed out progress on the long-awaited cross-valley connector, which will link Interstate 5 with Highway 14 and make getting across the Santa Clarita Valley a lot easier for everyone.

Councilwoman Laurie Ender advised listeners about an employment program for high-risk teens and other programs aimed at helping the valley's young people.

Councilwoman Marsha McLean described the city's many programs for sustainability (translation: the city has gone green).

And Councilwoman Laurene Weste had the pleasure of elucidating upon the city's substantial progress in providing more park space, open space and activity sites for residents, along with the expanded skate park, new gymnasium and other facilities that are in the works.

Their accomplishments go a long way toward explaining why the Santa Clarita Valley is one of the most desirable places to live in California.


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