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New bond gives housing a boost

November 10, 2002|Diane Wedner | Times Staff Writer

Dara Kovel awoke Wednesday morning to the news she had hoped for: At last, her company's affordable, 72-unit multifamily housing project in Oxnard might get off the ground, thanks to Tuesday's passage of Proposition 46, the $2.1-billion housing bond issue.

Mercy Housing California, the nonprofit company headed regionally by Kovel that helps get affordable-housing projects built, is one of dozens of nonprofit organizations that stand to benefit from the $1.11 billion that Proposition 46 will funnel specifically into programs that support the construction of multifamily housing for low-income renters statewide.

"There are many stalled developments out there, due to lack of funds," Kovel said. "Now this beautiful development of affordable townhomes in Oxnard just might get built."

The proposition, which passed decisively, will create or preserve 131,000 to 134,000 units of housing statewide, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The bond money will be spread among 21 housing programs, including $117.5 million for deferred low-interest loans and $75 million in down-payment assistance, primarily for first-time low-income buyers.

Builders such as KB Home that specialize in moderately priced single-family homes will not directly benefit from the proposition's passage, but they supported the measure anyway.

Bruce Karatz, KB Home's chief executive and chairman, said that, while he enthusiastically supported the measure, he would have preferred that the programs covered under the proposition included houses priced in the moderate range, where the need also is great.

Karatz added that any infusion of funding that will address California's affordable-housing crisis is welcome. Most builders agree.

"We hope this measure will make an important statement about the need for the state to appropriate funds to help low-income people, especially those with shelter needs," said Tim Coyle, a vice president of the California Building Industry Assn., a trade group based in Sacramento. "We hope the measure will establish a steady flow of affordable-housing programs."

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