Federal money added to affordable housing fund

Costa Mesa's nest egg to eventually buy local problem motels doubled Tuesday when the city's housing authority approved setting aside $660,000 in federal money.

Described as seed money by Neighborhood Improvement Manager Muriel Ullman, the allocation can be combined with $500,000 in general fund money the City Council wants to set aside in the next fiscal year.

The federal dollars are surplus from another redevelopment project Costa Mesa ended this year, Ullman said, and had to be used for affordable housing.

The federal money could be used in several ways, from rental assistance for needy individuals or families, or toward the city's long-term goal to buy a local motel that receives an disproportionate amount of police calls, Ullman said.

The city would have to return if it didn't find another affordable housing use.

The city has up to three years to develop a concrete strategy and plan for how to spend the $660,000, Ullman said.

The Housing Authority, made up of the City Council, agreed to reserve the money and will wait for Ullman to come back with more details on how they can use it.

— Joseph Serna

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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