City Backs Effort to Buy Affordable Units

Thousand Oaks officials have launched a multimillion-dollar effort to buy an affordable housing complex from private owners, shielding low-income residents from the impending threat of higher rents.

The Area Housing Authority hopes to buy the 43-unit Los Arboles Apartment Project on Calle Haya with a loan from Bank of America.

"This is a pretty slick deal," Douglas Tapking, executive director of the housing authority, said of the joint effort to rescue the units. "Nobody in Ventura County has ever done this before. We're quite fortunate to have been able to put this together."

Under the arrangement, the city of Thousand Oaks will donate $1 million to the housing authority, which has applied for a $2.5-million bank loan to complete the sale. The city put $200,000 of its grant money into escrow Thursday.

Tapking said the crisis with the apartments resulted from the Federal Housing Authority program that led to construction of the complex 20 years ago.

Under that plan, owners received low-interest loans to build the apartments, with the promise that they would keep rents under a low-income threshold for two decades. After satisfying that obligation, the owners could then sell the apartments to another private owner, who could hike the rents as much as 30%.

Rents might still rise slightly under the transition from federal to regional regulation since the local agency uses slightly different income calculations than the federal government, Tapking said.

But, he noted, the project will also include renovating parts of the complex, such as refurbishing roofs, sidewalks, fences, doors, driveways, lighting, landscaping and even ovens and refrigerators.

The Area Housing Authority serves Ventura County and Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo, Fillmore and Ojai.

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