The construction site of the Mission Cove apartments in Oceanside. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

As Congress tries to reconcile the two versions of the Republican tax bill, the fate of an incentive to build affordable housing – one used heavily in North County – remains uncertain.

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, created by Congress in 1986, provided $7.3 million for affordable housing in North County last year alone, resulting in 485 housing units, according to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee in the state treasurer’s office, which administers the credits.

If a program that was eliminated in the House version of the bill becomes final, the funding mechanism behind nearly one-third of North County’s affordable housing projects last year would dry up.

The program works by awarding tax credits to projects that provide housing to low-income families, seniors and individuals with disabilities. Those tax credits are purchased by investors, and that purchase provides the funding for affordable housing. There are two types of credits, one providing a 9 percent credit and one providing a 4 percent credit toward the purchaser’s federal tax liability.

Talks of reducing corporate taxes has already lessened the incentive for investors to buy tax credits that are awarded to affordable housing projects, Voice has reported. Now, as the tax bills head toward becoming law, the 4 percent credit is still on the books, but the funding mechanism behind it might be eliminated.

The 9 percent credit went to some high-profile projects last year, including 200 units at Mission Cove in Oceanside, which took nearly 10 years and all of the city’s affordable housing funds to construct. Solutions for Change also got $2.4 million from the state and federal government for its 31-unit project on Weitzel Street in downtown Oceanside.

But over the life of the program, the 4 percent credit has been responsible for funding nearly two-thirds of the affordable housing built in North County. The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee reports that of the 7,456 units built since the 1990s, 4,347 units used the 4 percent credit.

In recent years, that portion has dropped. Last year, only 167 of North County’s 485 new affordable units – about one-third – used the 4 percent credit.

Homeless Shelters Serve Twice as Many This Year

Until recently, most homeless shelters only operated on a temporary basis through winter. These shelters keep people off the street during the coldest part of the year, and try to get people housing within 60 days.

This year, shelters in Escondido, Vista and Carlsbad operate year-round, and KPBS reports they are able to help twice as many people as they could when they operated on a temporary basis.

With Bread of Life in Oceanside, which still is a seasonal shelter, they’re part of the Alliance for Regional Solutions, and have about 200 beds to serve homeless clients.

Greg Anglea, president of Alliance, said they went from helping 538 people avoid sleeping on the streets, to helping 1,031 last year.

Lake San Marcos Restoration in the Works

Lake San Marcos, which was formed when the San Marcos creek was dammed in the 1940s, is inching closer to a cleanup plan next year, the Union-Tribune reports.

The lake has long suffered from the effects of urban runoff, which causes pollution and algae blooms that starve the lake of oxygen. A board member at the Lake San Marcos Community Association said there are other problems that also need addressing, like sediment buildup and grasses growing on the lake bottom.

Some of the proposed solutions include treating the water at the creek before it enters the lake, holding it in a retention pond to let some of the phosphorous settle out and treating the water with a type of salt.

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Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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