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Affordable Housing in Del Mar? Yes!
September 2008 | By Bud Emerson


Is there a bigger challenge than finding affordable housing opportunities in Del Mar for low-income families? Yet, on a modest scale we have been doing just that for over twenty years.

Eight families have been participating in Del Mar's rental assistance program. These eight families are living in rental units, paying about 60% of their rent out of their own meager funds. The balance of the rent is paid out of Del Mar's housing fund.

The housing fund was created from annual federal block grants, fees from condo conversions, and occasional City Council contributions from the general fund. Over the years, the fund has been managed by the Del Mar Housing Corporation, a non-profit agency required by federal regulations in order to be eligible for block grants. The fund is folded into Del Mar's city general fund where it earns a modest interest return. The successful strategy has been to preserve the principal and use the return to cover annual operating costs. The current fund balance is approximately $700,000. The annual cost of the rental subsidies is about $65,000. The Housing Corporation sets priorities for inclusion in the program: Del Mar residents, seniors, ethnic minorities, and single parents.

The subsidy program is managed by Del Mar Community Connections (DMCC). Their function is to certify participant qualifications on an annual basis, communicate with participants, solve problems, and give reports to the Housing Corporation.

Current participants have incomes that range from about $10,000 to $32,000. Much credit goes to a few landlords who have voluntarily limited rental rates to accommodate the program. 

The city's draft housing element update calls for an increase of eight additional families in the next five years. Funds for such an increase have not yet been identified. One of the "exceptional public benefits" of the new "Garden" project which will be on this year's ballot is an annual housing fee for new project condo owners which will be added to the housing fund. Tax-deductible contributions to the housing fund are welcome.



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