Just a year after handing off the keys to four homes along Henderson Avenue in South Wrigley, the City of Long Beach Planning Commission entitled another project from Habitat For Humanity Los Angeles: 10 affordable, to-own units for low income families in the Washington neighborhood nestled above Willmore and below South Wrigley.

Situated on 14th Street between Pine and Pacific avenues, the units will be located on a consolidated 24,040 square-foot lot that was purchased in parcels by the Long Beach Community Investment Company over the course of three years, 2006 to 2009, and merged into a single lot earlier this year to make way for the project. While the investment company, an extension of the City of Long Beach, purchased the parcels for $1.7 million, it sold to Habitat LA for $990,000 (in keeping with the company’s mantra of selling land to provide affordable housing builders more opportunity for success).

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According to Erin Rank, Habitat LA’s President and CEO, the organization plans to have all 10 units ready by June of 2019 and sold to low-income families by the end of that year.

Each unit will be 1,240 square feet and include a two-car garage, along with a community-shared, 1,500 square-foot open space situated between the two structures. Families that succeed in garnering a unit will face a mortgage payment that will not exceed a third of their monthly income.

This project marks a continuation of Habitat’s goal of “breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling low income families to have a safe and affordable place to live while also providing them the chance to have the feeling of owning their home,” according to Rank. It also marks the continuation of a focused investment in the Washington neighborhood, which the organization says it will have invested $20 million in affordable housing for Washington by 2021.

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The move marks a definitive need to have more low income citizens the chance to own in a Long Beach market that has lacked renters’ protections and has seen a housing crisis explode across the county and state, prompting displacement and increases in homelessness.

According to the last American Community Survey data collected in 2016, the majority of Washington neighborhood households earn under $25,000 a year and the vast majority of its population—nearly 88 percent—are Latino or Black. The ability to possibly own a unit will not only allow families to invest in their neighborhood rather than living month-to-month, but also create an economic diversity that will help maintain a healthier community culture.

“Cost burden and overcrowding are the most serious problems experienced by very low-income area residents who need clean, safe homes to live in,” Rank said. “Working with volunteers, families and individuals, corporations, congregations and donors we are able to tackle this important housing issue throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including Long Beach. Homes are then sold to qualifying partner homeowners without profit and financed with affordable mortgage loans.  The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build additional Habitat for Humanity homes. It’s a win-win.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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