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City Committee Approves Sale Of Cortez Hill Shelter, Will Head To Full Council

The now-vacant Cortez Hill Family Center in this Google Maps photo from Febru...

Credit: Google Maps

Above: The now-vacant Cortez Hill Family Center in this Google Maps photo from February 2020.

A San Diego City Council committee signed off Thursday on the proposed sale of a vacant city-owned property on Cortez Hill to a nonprofit agency for less than $12,000 to create more than 100 units of affordable housing.

The .4-acre property at 1449 Ninth Ave. was most recently the site of the now-vacant Cortez Hill Family Center, which housed homeless families.

The City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee unanimously approved the proposal to sell the property for $11,593 to Community Housing Works, which develops, rehabilitates, preserves and operates affordable apartment communities in San Diego and throughout the state.

The sale will now move to the full City Council for consideration.

According to a staff report, the low price is justified because "the property sale furthers the public purpose of providing low-income rental housing for 55 years, the number of affordable housing units will be increased, and the city will be relieved of administrative costs and liabilities associated with managing and maintaining the property."

Councilman Chris Ward, the committee's chairman, said the building has served an important role, and he's grateful to Community Housing Works for proposing to create a net affordable housing gain.

"We are eager to get started and to keep working," said Mary Jane Jagodzinski, Community Housing Works' vice president of housing and real estate development.

The proposal calls for Community Housing Works to demolish the existing three-story structure and its 48 units and build anywhere between 75 and 110 units, at least 44 of which would be for people or families making 30% or less of the Area Median Income. The other units would be available to people making between 30 and 80% of the region's AMI. The property would also have up to three manager units.

The city acquired the property — formerly a Days Inn hotel — in 2001 for transitional housing for homeless families. The San Diego Housing Commission administered homeless services at the facility from 2010 until last year when nonprofit homelessness services provider Alpha Project took over.

The building was vacated by families in April after the city opened Operation Shelter to Home at the San Diego Convention Center for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the people at the city's transitional homeless shelters — such as Cortez Hill — were shuffled to central locations to allow for easier tracking of the virus and to prevent the spread of the illness.

Alpha Project vacated the building on May 8 and the city officially declared the property "surplus" on May 19.

The city's sale is contingent on the development of affordable housing on the property. According to city documents, it will be exclusively restricted to low-income rental housing. The San Diego Housing Commission will monitor the property's affordable restrictions.

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