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Church exploring affordable housing options in Clairemont

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SAN DIEGO – Affordable housing almost seems like an oxymoron in San Diego. As rent prices continue to rise, the city is now exploring affordable housing options to help alleviate the burden for renters.

According to Angela Jackson, who works at Clairemont Lutheran Church, the church has over the past few years hosted people who were trying to get back on their feet. When the church couldn’t step up, many of those people went homeless. “They were working hard to try to get ahead but couldn’t make rent anywhere. So they were left living back in their car,” Jackson said. “That really inspired one of our members. We started looking into it and realized we were zoned for residential.”

The church considered building a permanent affordable housing building in their parking lot but ran into some red tape. That’s when the organizations Urban People Living in Faith & Trust (UPLIFT) and Yes In God’s Backyard (YIGBY) stepped in to help.

“So that they don’t have to burden themselves with the upfront costs and the at-risk dollars, we can bring in some people willing to take that leap with them and spend their philanthropic dollars to help,” YIGBY's Andy Ballester said.

Ballester said the funding for affordable units on church property would come from private or nonprofit organizations. As a result, the red tape is expected to be easier and faster to cut through. “The city has been very supportive. They have been actively removing barriers for us so that we can move forward at a much more rapid pace," Ballester said, adding that they hope to get the project green-lit in the next couple of months and break ground as early as this fall.

In addressing the church's affordable housing plans, a spokesperson for the city wrote:

“The Mayor has asked residents to join him in efforts to make housing more affordable and we welcome the support of local faith leaders. This is a promising concept and the City is in discussions with the YIGBY team as well as other affordable housing stakeholders about how the City can make the process easier, faster and less expensive. To address the housing affordability crisis, we will need a variety of solutions. That’s why the Mayor’s housing reforms address the full spectrum – from homeless housing to middle-income housing – and this proposal could be another avenue to help reach our housing goals.”

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