City Okays Plan Prioritizing Housing for Historically Displaced Households

We have an obligation to do the work to right the past,’ Says Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tem

By Jack Simon

The Santa Monica City Council voted this week to establish a pilot program that will give priority on the city’s affordable housing waitlist to the households who were displaced by the Civic Auditorium or I-10 Freeway projects in the 1950s and 1960s.

It is unclear how the City plans to identify such people. Documents from the 1960’s may be rather scarce.

At its Tuesday night, meeting, the Council approved changes in priority to the city’s Affordable Housing Production Program “in response to historic zoning practices and land use decisions that disproportionately impacted communities of color and displaced thousands of households living in Santa Monica.”

“We are leading a project that a lot of cities should have,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan. “We have an obligation to do the work to right the past.”

The new pilot program will provide priority in city-funded housing and inclusionary housing for up to 100 households or descendants of households, said city officials. “It is part of the city’s commitment to equity and inclusion.”

“With this pilot, we strive to reach former residents or their descendants who were wrongly displaced from our community and to bring them back to Santa Monica through our affordable housing program,” said Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “If you or your family lost your home during this period, we urge you to apply for below market housing opportunities and to work with us as we look to craft a permanent program.”

This priority program comes two years after Council decided in March 2019 to explore a policy to provide housing access to former residents who were displaced by the creation of the Civic Auditorium in the Belmar Triangle neighborhood and I-10 freeway in the Pico neighborhood, which included low-income communities and communities of color.

Under the pilot, Santa Monica’s affordable housing waitlist priority is now as follows:

First priority – Santa Monica households who have been or will be displaced from their homes due to a natural disaster, a government action, removal permit eviction, owner occupancy, Ellis Act, or a mobile home park closure;

Second priority (newly adopted) -- households or descendants of households displaced from the historic Belmar neighborhood or along the I-10 freeway;

Third priority – households who either live in Santa Monica or work at least 25 hours per week in Santa Monica.

Throughout the pilot, city officials said in a report, staff will test and evaluate outreach strategies, applicant demand, the availability of historical documentation, verification processes, compliance with governing legislation and the administrative resources required to implement a broader program.

Any family impacted by the construction of the Civic Auditorium or the I-10 freeway is encouraged to visit Pilot program applicants will be referred to affordable housing opportunities once eligibility has been completed.


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