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I’ve had a few emails from readers asking about the full list of affordable housing projects that were studied for my investigation, which we posted yesterday.

My colleague, graphics guru Keegan Kyle, put together all the graphics for the story including the one below, which lists all 24 of the affordable housing projects I looked at for the piece. Have a look at the projects to see if there are any in your neighborhood. If there are, and you’re interested in taking an even closer look, send me an email and I will send over the reports I have on that project, so you can investigate it yourself.

Click on the graphic to see a bigger version.

I wanted to make a couple of notes on methodology too, in response to emails and comments we have received on the story.

• Several people have pointed out that a few of the projects I looked at are mixed-use projects. That means they contain both residential and commercial spaces. I want to make clear that the per-unit cost for those projects doesn’t include any money that was spent directly on building commercial space.

For example, the Mercado del Barrio is a $62 million project. About $19 million of that will go towards building the supermarket and the other commercial buildings on the site. Around $44 million will go directly towards the residential properties, which is why I only included the $44 million in my calculations.

• It’s also important to note that all the figures that appear in my story were fact-checked by representatives of the city agencies that helped build the projects. In several instances, numbers were revised based on the reviews of my data by agency staff.

On a couple of occasions, city staff or private developers disagreed with our characterizations. In these cases, we discussed the matter at length with both the dissenting parties and independent experts and came to a decision on the numbers based on the entirety of those discussions.

• Another question I have been asked is how the square-foot cost of the projects were calculated. In the same way that I subtracted out the financing for the commercial spaces in these projects, I also didn’t include those spaces in determining the total square footage of the development for the purpose of calculating the total per-square-footage cost of the affordable housing.

To use the Mercado del Barrio as an example, I didn’t divide the $44 million allocated for building the residential portion of the site by the entire square footage of the whole project, since that wouldn’t be a true representation of the cost of the housing.

Instead, I only used the square footage of the residential part of the project. More concisely, I used a measure known as “rentable square footage” — all the square footage that’s inside the actual apartment units, excluding spaces like parking, corridors and elevators.

I did, however, include common areas like computer rooms and barbecue areas into that square footage, since that seemed equitable. It wouldn’t have been fair to ignore the fact that certain projects, for example, built 2,000 square foot common rooms as part of the development, so all that space went into “diluting” the total per-square-foot cost.

• It’s worth noting that the private developers I spoke to said they are only really concerned about one metric: Total rentable-square-foot cost of the project they’re building. The central question that’s asked in private development is: How much is this going to cost for every square foot we can rent out?

You won’t find local public officials debating rentable-square-footage cost, however. I didn’t see that measurement in any of the dozens of report and cost analyses I read for this investigation.

Please contact Will Carless directly at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.550.5670 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/willcarless.

Will Carless

Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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