Special Report: Non-profit group’s affordable housing idea gets county grant

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — County supervisor Ron Roberts has approved a grant to a San Diego non-profit that wants to build more affordable housing.

The supervisor’s office is giving Kind Corporation up to $100,000 for a feasibility study. Kind is proposing the construction of a 50 unit development for low-income seniors on a site on Levant Street in Linda Vista.

The county owned property is being used by the county’s child welfare services.

The grant money is coming out of $500,000 set aside by Roberts to consider proposals to ease the county’s affordable housing crisis, with creative, low-cost projects for seniors and other vulnerable groups. Kind’s proposal was introduced to Roberts from some familiar sources; former San Diego mayor Maureen O’Connor and her twin sister Mavourneen O’Connor.

The mayor’s sister, Mavourneen was the founder of San Diego Kind Corp. and developed three high rise projects for low-income seniors, including a large 156 unit complex called San Diego Square at Ninth and Broadway in downtown San Diego.

All three properties have since been sold. Kind has not been involved in developing any other affordable housing projects since 1989.

“While neither O’Connor is employed by San Diego Kind or sits on its board, they also were aware of their past involvement with San Diego Kind that the organization had $2 million available for a low-income senior housing project,” Roberts said. “Given San Diego’s critical shortage of affordable housing, and the high per unit cost of cutting into that deficit, I was, and remain, intrigued.”

The grant is part of a larger fund of $500,000 from the supervisor’s office that will be awarded to other companies that want to propose creative and cost-cutting housing solutions.  Kind Corp.’s attorney, Chris Morris said the non-profit is considering a concept involving so-called “tiny houses”  that would allow each unit to be built at $100,000, which Morris said is one-third of the conventional cost.

“All that is approved right now is a feasibility study to see if it will work,” Morris said.  “We’re willing to commit substantial funds to this project. Nothing in this city or this county is a done deal, but we’re hopeful that with this feasibility study and then the county taking hold and saying, ’This could actually happen,’ that we’ll get the green light to go from there.”

Kind Corp. is the first company to receive county funds to develop its proposal. Kind and the County are currently working on an agreement to hire an outside architect to conduct the study.

The County is not legally obligated to sign any development deal with Kind.  

Categories: Local San Diego News