The Palm Springs City Council on Monday unanimously approved additional funding to help push the first affordable housing project in the city in more than a decade over the finish line.
The Monarch Apartments, a 60-unit affordable housing development in northern Palm Springs, is 70% complete, city staff said in a report, but its developers are running into an issue faced by many others both during and after the pandemic: A dramatic increase in the cost of materials.
What was originally a $31 million project when it broke ground in October 2021 is now estimated to cost $39 million but has only $36 million in committed funds.
Developer Community Housing Opportunities Corporation (CHOC) was seeking help from the city to bridge the final gap. In the end, the council voted to contribute $2.2 million more during its regular meeting Monday evening, with a promise that officials would help the developer secure the remainder of the funds.
The additional funding brings the city’s contribution for the project to roughly $5.5 million, including donated land and waived fees.
Currently on track to open its doors by the end of the year, the project will provide one-, two- and three-bedroom units available for rent on a sliding scale based on household income, and is sorely needed. It has been more than a decade since a similar project was opened in the city, and an estimated 500 people have applied for a unit.
Dozens of affordable housing projects are either under construction or in the works throughout the Coachella Valley, with city councils, planning commissions, and critical stakeholders pitching in to push nearly 4,500 units of affordable housing forward – a massive increase from just four years ago.
“From 2010 to 2018, there was an average of about 38 units of affordable housing per year being produced in the Coachella Valley,” said Ian Gabriel, director of data, policy, and planning for the local nonprofit Lift to Rise last November. “Now there are about 1,600 units that are either under construction or set to break ground within six months.”
At the same time, however, rents have skyrocketed for many in the valley. The cost of an average rental in Palm Springs listed on Zillow was $529 more in January 2022 than it was when the pandemic started in March 2020.