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August 18, 2023

Developer Breaks Ground for Construction of 87 New Affordable Rental Apartments in Downtown San Diego

The San Diego Housing Commission awarded financing and rental housing vouchers to support the development of Cortez Hill Apartments

SAN DIEGO, CA — Upon completion of the new construction of Cortez Hill Apartments, which celebrated is groundbreaking today, 87 households with low income or experiencing chronic homelessness will have rental homes of their own that they can afford in downtown San Diego.

“We need more of this, not just in downtown; it’s not just in San Diego. If you’re with me, whenever you see an opportunity—whether it’s at the kitchen table with that neighbor that does not like more housing in your neighborhood, whether it’s your friends on social media who maybe talk about housing being a bad thing, it’s not. It’s necessary for a civilized society and what we need to be successful as a community and city. Because of Community HousingWorks, we’ll have more of that,” Mayor Todd Gloria said.

With financing and rental housing vouchers from the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), Community HousingWorks is developing Cortez Hill Apartments.

“This project, these affordable apartments will improve the quality of people’s lives,” said San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, whose district includes the Cortez Hill neighborhood. “That’s what this is all about. Rents in San Diego, we all know, are very high. And by ensuring that a tenant’s rent is affordable for them in relation to their income, it enables them to take care of their other expenses and live their lives more fully.”

Of the 87 affordable rental housing units at Cortez Hill Apartments, 14 will be for people experiencing chronic homelessness, and 73 will provide homes for people with extremely low income but not experiencing homelessness.

“This is a ‘we’ project, and I always say that because we have a problem in this city and in this region. That is homelessness, and that is housing,” SDHC Chair of the Board Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell said. “That means we all have to try and find a way to lean in together and try to resolve and address these issues.”

SDHC awarded 87 rental housing vouchers to help pay rent for the residents at the property when it is completed. These vouchers will be linked directly to the development. When a resident moves on, the voucher will remain to help another eligible household.

SDHC also awarded a loan of up to $5 million toward the Cortez Hill development. The loan consists of federal and local funds SDHC administers:

  • $1,816,000 from the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awards to the City of San Diego;
  • $1,684,000 from the City of San Diego’s Affordable Housing Fund; and
  • $1,500,000 from the State of California’s Local Housing Trust Fund (LHTF).

In addition, SDHC authorized the issuance of up to $21.2 million in tax-exempt Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds and up to $10.2 million in taxable bonds, which the San Diego City Council approved in its role as the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego. Private sources of funds, such as revenue from the development, are used to repay the bonds. SDHC, the City of San Diego and the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego are not financially liable for the bonds.

“We are so deeply excited to be celebrating this day,” Community HousingWorks CEO Sean Spear said. “It recognizes that we, all of us, and especially on the lender and city side, this was a long road to get to this point of the groundbreaking. It really represents a huge amount of community effort, both from the neighbors here as well as the city family as well as the state for playing integral roles in making sure this community is going to be one that will thrive, not only because of the residents that will be served, but the interconnection with the neighborhood and the broader downtown community.”

As the lead service provider for Cortez Hill Apartments, People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) will provide case management services for the residents who experienced homelessness and additional services for all residents.

The case manager will also connect previously unhoused residents to appropriate employment, mental/physical, substance abuse and crisis care services, as needed. An on-site activity coordinator will conduct a needs assessment and create a guide for residents needing referral to other resources. Activities will include community building events, education and skill-building classes, and health and wellness events.

Site amenities will include a state-of-the-art community room, computer learning centers and an outdoor community space that will provide resident services and programs. The community room will include a kitchen, restrooms, bike storage, a computer lab and meeting and gathering spaces. An on-site laundry facility will be accessible from the courtyard.

The development is close to several neighborhood amenities, including grocery stores and pharmacies within a mile radius, and is a short distance from the Tweet Street Linear Park and Balboa Park.

Financing for the development also includes low-income housing tax credits, which California State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s office administers.

“It takes the community to come together,” California Chief Deputy Treasurer Patrick Henning said. “One thing that I’ve had the pleasure of joining over the past couple days is some of your local elected officials—a Mayor who not only walks the walk but also knocks on doors, makes sure that he’s getting the attention of not only my boss, the governor and others, and makes sure that the city has the resources it needs to get through this housing crisis.”

The rent for units at Cortez Hill Apartments will be affordable to households with income of 30 percent to 40 percent of San Diego’s Area Median Income, or $33,100 to $44,100 per year for a two-person household.


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Media Contact: 

Scott Marshall,

Vice President of Communications

San Diego Housing Commission


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