I would like to suggest that affordable housing communities not only provide much needed housing to those in need, it can offer award winning design and provide much needed jobs in our country.
I am privileged to serve as a member of the board of directors and co-chair of the real estate committee of Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM). In its twenty-five year history, CCSM has developed or renovated over 2,000 units.
Typically, CCSM provides units that rent from approximately $750 to $1,200 for families, whose incomes are less than the median income ($48,000). For every community that CCSM develops, there is a waiting list of 3,000 families, many who have been on the waiting list for five years.
For the majority of the new developments, the locations are on the major thoroughfares of Santa Monica. Under state law, these projects receive a 25 percent density bonus. This density bonus results in a four-story configuration, with two levels of underground parking.
In Santa Monica, there are some very good architects. Depending upon the site, one of these architects is selected for each new community. Each community is designed to be LEED certified, including
- Water conservation through xeriscaping and permeable paving
- Energy conservation through thermal solar hot water heating, dual-glazed low-emissivity windows, high R-rated wall and roof insulation, Energy Star appliances, hydronic space heating, and energy efficient lighting
- Environmentally friendly materials like natural linoleum, recycled carpets, non-off-gassing cabinets, no and low VOC paints, and engineered lumber
- Energy production through solar photovoltaic panels
- Design that works with the sun and prevailing winds
- Earth-friendly cleaning supplies and methods as well as vigilant recycling
- Tenant involvement and engagement in all our sustainable activities
- On-going audit of our standard practice against best practices
On our board, we have Jim Mount, the architect emeritus of Santa Monica. With Jim’s talented eye and guidance, CCSM has achieved some award winning designs. As shown at the beginning of this article (photo by John Edward Linden Photography), the project, at Santa Monica Boulevard and 26th Street, won an AIA Honor Award for Architecture. The architect was Kanner Architects.
Broadway Housing (see photo– Marvin Rand photography) consists of 41 units of family affordable housing with two levels of subterranean parking; community spaces and courtyard with play area. Pugh + Scarpa designed the building skin partially clad with recycled aluminum cans formed into building blocks about twice the size of concrete blocks. Pugh + Scarpa worked with the state to get the approval to work with local recycling companies to provide the material. These are joined by a perforated metal screen on the façade, which sparkles in the sun and glows at night, while also acting as sun and privacy screen.
Colorado Court (see photo– Marvin Rand–photography), also designed by Pugh + Scarpa, is not only the first building of its type in the country to be 100% energy neutral, but also the first to achieve a LEED “Gold” rating. Colorado Court has set the standard for future affordable housing projects, proving that energy efficiency is an attainable goal in concert with design excellence, economy of means, and livability.
Rudy Bruner Prize, 2003
National AIA Honor Award, 2003
National AIA/COTE, “Top Ten Green Project” Award, 2003
National AIA PIA Award, 2003
AIA/CC Honor Award, 2003
AIA/LA Honor Award, 2003
BHS&F World Habitat Award, Finalist, 2002
Westside Prize for Urban Design, 2002
Affordable housing could be the best jobs generator in the current recession. Nationwide, there are ten million men and women involved in residential construction. For every 50 unit building CCSM develops, we generate 100 jobs for a year. The project/unit layout has been all worked out. By utilizing a façade design that reflects local community tastes, new affordable housing projects could spring up all over the country and with these projects one could create lots of jobs for people in need of them. By taking this approach, you could create 15,000 projects of 50 units each, for a total of 750,000 units, which provide housing for 3 million residents and generate 1.5 million jobs.
In addition to affordable housing, CCSM builds a community by offering after school programs, such as the Boys and Girls Club tutor and College Bound Programs, art and theater programs.
Over the years, CCSM has received a number of prestigious awards from:
– The United Nations
– The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
– National Endowment of the Arts
– American Institute of Architects
– Fannie Mae Foundation
– The Rudy Brunner Award for Design Excellence
– Mortgage Bankers Association of America
– Progressive Architecture
– Pacific Coast Builders
– Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing
– American Institute of Architects, California Chapter
– American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter
– Westside Urban Forum
– Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce
We need a lot more CCSM’s in our country that offer affordable housing, good design, sustainable features, and supportive programs for residents and the creation of much needed jobs.