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SAN DIEGO — Students and staff at NewSchool of Architecture and Design are set to tackle the affordable housing issue in San Diego County by developing a plan in National City.

In an ambitious collaboration with National City, students and faculty at NewSchool are tasked with developing a sustainable urban neighborhood for 30 blocks in what is one of the poorest areas in San Diego County. They’re expected to come up with the plan — design everything from apartments to store fronts, parks and new sidewalks — in less than a year.

“We need a lot of affordable housing for the city. It’s the right scale and the right set of challenges,” said assistant professor Daniella Deutsch.

“We don’t want to over design and over develop the area. It is gentrified, that’s a major concern of ours,” said fourth-year NewSchool student Tyler Napolitano.

This isn’t the school’s first crack at such a major project. They did a similar design plan for Portland, Oregon last year and also the development of Quartyard in San Diego’s East Village.

“Nobody trusts the city councils or the developer, but they’ll listen to the students because they don’t have an ax to grind other than getting a grade,” said Mike Stepner, chair of the architectural department at NewSchool.

Once the final design plans are done in March, it goes to the city to bid out to developers and the school hopes to see the project come to life in the next few years.