LAGUNA BEACH — In what could be the first project of its kind in the nation, an Orange County housing group is attempting to secure $4 million in federal funds to establish low-income rental housing for HIV patients.
The program will be discussed Tuesday by the Laguna Beach City Council, which has been asked to donate $50,000 in start-up funds. The seed money would be used to develop the grant application for the low-income handicapped-housing dollars available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"This is kind of a low-key, low-density project," said James C. Loomis, chairman of Affordable Housing Project. "It could be duplexes, it could be triplexes."
Affordable Housing Project is a new group made up of the Mary Erickson Foundation, Housing for Independent People, ASF Orange County and Orange County Hospice.
In recommending approval of the city's donation to the project, the city staff said in a memo to council members that about 40 units are proposed countywide, with at least 20 to be located in Laguna Beach, where the number of HIV patients is among the highest in the county.
"The people that have the HIV and need housing are typically the people that do not have housing and do not have jobs," Loomis said Friday. "As we see a progression in numbers (of patients), we are going to see a progression in need."
In addition to the $50,000 being sought from the city of Laguna Beach, the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine and Dana Point will also be asked to contribute a total of $50,000, according to the funding proposal presented to the council.
"Initial support of this city is felt to be necessary as a demonstration of commitment to addressing the need," Loomis said in a letter to Mayor Neil G. Fitzpatrick.
Reed Flory, a financial and development consultant for the group, said that while a similar application for federal housing assistance from Northern California is pending, "in the U.S., there has not yet been one (housing unit) constructed."