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Affordable Housing Advocate Anne Wilson Named KPBS Community Hero

Anne B. Wilson has been selected as a community hero by KPBS and the National Conflict Resolution Center for her longstanding efforts and success in bringing to San Diego more affordable housing, an issue she sees as critical to helping working families.

“A stable and affordable home allows a family to focus on other things in their lives,” Wilson said. “They can get ahead in the world. Their children can focus on school.”

Wilson is the senior vice president of housing and real estate development for Community HousingWorks, a nonprofit responsible for creating or renovating close to 3,000 affordable housing units in the area. She joined Community HousingWorks in 2002.

Event: Community Conversation With Anne Wilson

  • The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows, 2223 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego
  • Thursday, June 29, 2017
  • 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Age Requirement: All ages
  • Cost: Free

Full Event Information

The lack of affordable housing has become a serious issue around the state, according to the California Housing Partnership, a state-sponsored agency created to preserve affordable housing and advise on housing policy. Its May report indicated that San Diego County needs 142,052 more affordable rental units.

Wilson and other affordable housing experts cite rising costs and cuts in government funding for the decrease in affordable housing investment. It’s a little bit like going shopping for a car and only being able to choose from luxury models, Wilson said.

“In the car industry, there is everything from Mercedes to Ford Fiestas,” she said. “In housing, you only have Mercedes, Lexus and Infinity. No one can afford to build Ford Fiestas. We are not building the full range of needs.”

Anne Wilson, Community HousingWorks vice president of housing and real estate development, at the gate of Kalos, an 83-unit affordable housing complex in North Park.

One of Community HousingWorks newest developments is a 76-unit apartment building in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood geared toward LGBT seniors. Scheduled to open in December, 500 people — the maximum allowed on the waiting list — signed up for a shot at one of the units in just two weeks.

Another Community HousingWorks development is Kalos, an 83-unit complex also in North Park. In addition to being affordable, the complex has a multi-purpose community room and an afterschool classroom and computer center. The complex is LEED Platinum certified meeting certain energy and environmental design standards.

Wilson grew up on the East Coast and lived for two years with her family in Ethiopia when her parents joined the Peace Corps following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

As a college student, Wilson eschewed summer jobs offering her secretarial or waitressing work, choosing instead to paint houses, work she found satisfying. “I made great money,” she said. “Much more than I would have made doing secretarial work.”

Wilson earned a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She worked in affordable housing in Boston before moving to San Diego in 1991, where she became the founding director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which is dedicated to transforming distressed neighborhoods into healthy sustainable communities.

Wilson said she is proud of helping the nonprofit affordable housing sector grow in San Diego. “The decision to come to San Diego and start something new here is something I’m proud of,” she said.

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