Supervisors Approve Plan to Aid Builders of Homes for Poor

Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Housing Authority can start a program to offer loans and technical help to developers who want to build rental housing units for poor people.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a Housing Action Strategy that had been studied for several months and was put together for the authority by a private consultant. Initially, OCHA will loan $4.1 million of its $7-million reserve fund to program participants.

Sandra J. McClymonds, OCHA executive director, said the program will begin April 1, when a coordinator begins work at the housing authority.

Supervisor Don R. Roth called the proposal "an outstanding effort by OCHA to find ways to significantly help find more affordable housing (in the county)."

More Units for the Poor

He said the key to the proposal was that the private and public sector will work together to build more housing units for the poor.

Under the program, OCHA will seek to form partnerships with lenders, developers, nonprofit organizations and cities to add privately owned housing units for low-income residents.

McClymonds said: "This will develop a new dimension here at the housing authority. We will be able to focus on new ideas."

Although the $4.1 million is not considered a large amount for such an agency, she said the money will be enough to get the program started, because those funds will be recycled.

"These will be loans, not grants. So this will be money that will come back to us for other use," McClymonds said.

She also added that OCHA will not be a primary lender to developers building new housing units for the poor. The developers will get most of their money through other means.

However, developers who participate in the program will be required to make 10% to 50% of the new housing units available to low-income residents.

"What we want is to stimulate the production of additional low-income rental units. We are looking to the private sector to help with this," McClymonds said.

The housing director also said the program will provide other non-monetary aid to developers and builders.

"Some cities or developers may only need technical assistance to get them started. If that's what they'll need, we will be able to help them as well," McClymonds said.

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