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Even in Monterey County, affordable housing does not come cheap

By Pam Marino, Monterey County Weekly, January 24, 2022

“Nonprofit developer [Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. (CHISPA)] is about to spend what is likely the highest cost per unit it’s ever encountered: $700,569 per unit for a 65-unit project in East Garrison, located between Marina and Salinas. 

“CHISPA was awarded state funding to build units for farmworkers, which means 43 of the 65 units will be reserved exclusively for farmworkers and their families, much needed here in Monterey County.

“The total cost of the long-awaited apartment building is $45,537,000.

“Compare that price tag to the 47-unit Junsay Oaks senior apartment complex completed by CHISPA in Marina in 2019, which cost approximately $17 million, or $361,700 per unit.

“Dana Cleary, CHISPA’s director of real estate development, says the cost of materials is one big reason for the enormous jump.”

A rule negotiated between the county and unions to pay the “prevailing wage” for labor on the site, plus construction insurance and completion bond requirements due to growing fire hazards, also raised costs.

“Why is CHISPA building the project now? The organization has had the option to build since 2007 … [but when] the Great Recession came in 2008, affordable housing funding dried up. There was some state funding at the start of the pandemic, but CHISPA opted to wait as prices began to rise.

“ ‘When it comes to affordable housing do you sit around and do nothing?’ Cleary asks. The people who need housing most will have it a year or two earlier than if CHISPA had waited to see if prices settled again.”

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