San Diego

Affordable Housing: Local Art Center Bypasses Federal Funding For Building

As many Californians struggle to make ends meet, a new report shows what many people already know, the state does not have enough affordable housing.

Research by California Housing Partnership found the state still needs almost 1.5 million additional affordable rental units.

In the Southeastern area of San Diego, the city of San Diego approved zoning changes a few years ago to spur development.

One of the projects benefiting from the update is the future home of Space 4 Art, on a half-acre of vacant land in Sherman Heights.

A new model redesigned by architects shows the art center will house public galleries and performance areas, along with 100 units where artists can work and live.

Thirty of those units will be set aside for low and moderate income artists.

"The challenge in building affordable housing is that building affordable housing is not affordable for the developers," said Jennifer de Poyen, Space 4 Art Executive Director. "It is even more expensive in many cases than building regular housing because of the rules and regulations

Space 4 Art, which is currently housed in East Village, is trying to shore up the last $3 million it needs for the new building through donations and private sources.

"The initial costs are the ones that are hardest to fund," de Poyen said.

The art center is bypassing Housing Choice Voucher Program federal housing funding, also known as Section 8, because it says those guidelines would limit the height, open space and light needed for artist workshops.

The art center will instead go after new markets tax credits to attract private investors.

"We're a small non-profit with a really big dream," de Poyen said.

It's a dream the group says is a realistic one and that, once built, its business model shows the art center will be self-sustaining.

Space 4 Art hopes to break ground on its new home in Sherman Heights in 2021.

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