Campus, Long Beach, News

Plans for affordable housing in Downtown Long Beach terminated

Long Beach State’s hopes of having access to affordable housing units for staff, faculty and students may be dashed for the time being as it was announced Wednesday that the Broadway Block and University Village development projects have been terminated, the Long Beach Post reported.

The University Village was slated to begin construction in fall 2022, according to Simon Kim, associate vice president for research and sponsored programs at CSULB, after a series of delays stemming from a lack of funding.

In collaboration with Long Beach Center, LLC and the city, CSULB was set to debut a state of the art classroom project to house traditional and non-traditional student certification programs along Long Beach Blvd.

Plans were to set aside 10,000 square feet of a development that was to run from Third Street to Sixth Street and along Long Beach Boulevard for the school to build 14 new classrooms and affordable housing.

President Jane Close Conoley said that finances ultimately spelled the demise of the project.

“We were going to be renters to the buildings he was building and he couldn’t get all the financing he needed to go forward,” Conoley said.

Financing also fell through on the university’s side of things, Conoley said.

“Of course, right now with the massive cut in our state budget ($23M) we don’t have much to invest,” Conoley said in an email.

The second development, the Broadway Block, meant to accommodate faculty and staff housing needs, hasn’t come together for other reasons.

Original plans promised the university at least 100 units set aside to be “affordable housing,” or housing at a lower cost than the market price. According to Conoley, things changed when a new developer took over.

“The other project changed hands and the new developer wasn’t interested in affordable housing – which was the only reason we had partnered,” Conoley said.

Affordable housing, a point of interest for both Mayor Robert Garcia and Conoley, has been a hot-button issue for the Long Beach area for quite some time now.

According to the U.S. Census, the median gross rent in the city of Long Beach in 2018 was $1,252, which was over $200 more than the national average. In comparison, the median household income for the city was $60,551 versus the national average of $60,293.

Data from the 2018 census shows that the average median rent in Long Beach is $200 more than the rest of the United States.

At this rate, the average citizen in Long Beach spends 25% of their annual income on rent alone. However, many residents fall below this income bracket, especially college students.

“We’re still working on the problem. We continue to look for downtown properties that we could access and turn into affordable housing,” Conoley said. “We’re also working with donors about taking over their rental properties and developing those for the campus community.”

Although CSULB’s involvement with both developments may be over, the university continues to look for more options.

“It slows us down but doesn’t stop us,” Conley said. “We have a great partnership with the City of Long Beach and I know we’ll figure something out. We have just begun a conversation with a different developer who is investigating a downtown property.  Too early to tell if it will happen, but we keep seeking partners.”

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