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Commission Backs 50-Unit Housing Project for Families : Thousand Oaks: The development is geared to people making no more than 50% of the county's median income of $48,400.


Thousand Oaks planning commissioners have approved a 50-unit public housing project that officials say will help provide needed homes in a city where 27% of the families are classified as lower income.

The Spanish-style project, expected to cost $4.8 million, is planned for a five-acre site owned by the city's Redevelopment Agency along Hillcrest Drive between Boardwalk Avenue and Hodencamp Road. Each of the units would have three bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths and would be rented to families making no more than 50% of the county median income of $48,400. Rents would vary, but would amount to 30% of the family's adjusted income.

If the City Council also approves the project--possibly at a meeting next month--construction is scheduled to start in August or September and take a year to complete. The Area Housing Authority of Ventura County would operate the project on land leased from the Redevelopment Agency.

The development would be the authority's third public housing project in Thousands Oaks. The 64-unit Florence Janss project on Brazil Street was opened 10 years ago for very low-income elderly residents, and the 49-unit Leggett Court project on Los Feliz Drive opened seven years ago for very low-income families.

Even with the new project, city officials say it is unlikely that they will meet their goal of providing 400 affordable housing units by 1994. But public housing officials said Thousand Oaks has done a good job of providing housing for those less fortunate.

"They've done as well, if not better, than other cities in the county," said Carolyn Briggs, executive director of the housing authority. "There's a great need, an unmet need, that this development helps to address."

There were 2,300 low-income families on the county's public housing waiting list when the county stopped taking names in June, Briggs said. About 300 of those families are from Thousand Oaks.

Olav Hassel, housing services manager for Thousand Oaks, said 27% of the city's families make 80% or less of the county median income.

Most of the project's funding is being provided by a $4.1-million federal housing grant. Briggs said she will explore getting the remaining $700,000 from the housing authority's budget or the Redevelopment Agency. The housing authority could also ask the City Council to remove some of the conditions mandated by the Planning Commission in an effort to cut costs, she said.

During the commission's lengthy discussion of the project Monday, concerns were raised about children playing in the flood-control channel behind the development.

Commissioner Irving Wasserman voted against the project, saying he could not overlook the potential safety hazards.

"I can't get around the danger inherent with a project that invites small children and is built in close proximity to a flood plain and a flood channel and with a main roadway on the other side," he said.

"Something has got to go there," Commissioner Mervyn Kopp said. "There's always going to be a safety problem."

Kopp and Commissioners Forrest Frields and Marilyn Carpenter voted for the project. Commissioner Denise Filz was absent.

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