Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and City Council members broke ground March 4 on two new affordable homes that Habitat for Humanity will build along Leucadia Boulevard.
Blakespear said negotiations for the project had been in the works for years, and will provide a welcome addition to the city’s affordable housing stock. The city provided the land to the nonprofit through a ground lease, which allows the land to be developed for the future homeowners.
“It takes all of us doing that little bit if we’re going to move the needle on housing,” she said. “Two homes could not seem like a lot, but it actually is, because there are all sorts of little things that go together that create the big picture.”
The homes, located east of Interstate 5 on Leucadia, will be built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers. One will be 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms, and the other 1,700 square feet with four bedrooms. They will both have attached garages, covered porches, drought-tolerant landscaping, and energy-efficient appliance and plumbing fixtures, according to a Habitat for Humanity news release.
Both homes are expected to be completed by spring 2021. They will be sold at an affordable price through Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership selection process. The organization will announce a date for an orientation that prospective buyers will have to attend.
A family of four applying for the housing would need a yearly income of at least $53,500 and no more than $85,600, according to the San Diego Habitat for Humanity website. Individuals and families that spend more than 50% of their income on rental income, live in overcrowed housing or meet similar criteria are eligible to be considered.
“They’re trying to live,” Blakespear said of the future occupants. “They’re trying to eat, they’re trying to drive around, go to school, recreate, live a good quality of life like we all want for ourselves, and for our families and for our friends and our communities.”
California cities are in the process of updating their housing elements to comply with the state’s new Regional Housing Needs Assessment cycle, which requires them to zone for more housing across all income levels. San Diego County was assigned 171,000 new units to accommodate over the next decade. The San Diego Association of Governments assigned each city a share of that total, with Encinitas receiving 1,554. Historically, cities have struggled to hit their RHNA numbers.
The growing homeless population in California, which accounts for approximately one quarter of all people experiencing homelessness in the U.S., also continues to create a sense of urgency for more affordable housing.
San Diego Habitat for Humanity President and CEO Lori Holt Pfeiler, who once served on the Escondido City Council, said “government always wants to vote so that people can have a better life.”
“It’s not until a family really has a home that they can call their own that they can thrive and really take care of themselves,” she said.
Terry Schmidt, president of Guild Mortgage, and her colleagues presented San Diego Habitat for Humanity with a $250,000 check to build one of the homes.
“Our roots are in California,” Schmidt said. “What better way to get back to our roots than build a house for somebody that needs a home?”
For more information about the selection process, visit sandiegohabitat.org.