EL CERRITO -- An affordable senior housing project, already held up for a year by the loss of state redevelopment funds, is facing a threat from the federal government's $85 billion sequestration that has cut dollars from housing programs.
The $22.3 million, 63-unit housing complex planned for 10848 and 10860 San Pablo Ave. just south of City Hall, now may have to wait another year or two to get started because the federal government has made cuts to county programs that could aid the project, said Linda Mandolini, president of Hayward-based Eden Housing, the project's developer.
The project cost includes $13.7 million in private investment that includes $12.5 million in federal tax credits, Mandolini said. The credits and some other funding for the project are now in limbo.
"What used to take one year to two to build, now, hopefully, takes three to four," she said. "We can't just raise rents on this (tenant) population to pay for it; they make $12,000 a year."
Eden had just restarted the environmental review for the project when the sequestration began on March 1.
"The (environmental review) costs $250,000," Mandolini said. "You don't want to spend money on it if you think you're going to lose it all."
El Cerrito bought the one-acre property in 2009 using redevelopment funds with the intention of developing it for affordable housing.
The project was held up when the state dissolved city and county redevelopment agencies in 2011, throwing into doubt the method by which the city could transfer the land.
The largest structure currently on the property is the former Tradeway Furniture showroom, which closed in 2008 after 72 years in business.
Eden is looking also to a bill in the state Legislature sponsored by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) that would provide $300 million to $500 million for low-income housing statewide.
"It could help solve the challenges like we see in El Cerrito that came with the loss of redevelopment and sequestration," Mandolini said.
There's no question strong demand for low-cost housing is there, she said.
Eden maintains 5,000 low-income units in the Bay Area, with 10,000 families on its waiting list.
"In San Jose, we have three applicants for every unit," Mandolini said. "It's a myth that the foreclosure market has picked up the slack, particularly for people at the lower end of the income spectrum."