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HASLO holds “wall-raising” on new affordable housing complex in SLO

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Benjamin Purper
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The construction site for HASLO's project at Lucca Lane.

High housing costs are a major challenge in San Luis Obispo County, especially along the coast and in cities like San Luis Obispo. Now, the San Luis Obispo Housing Authority, or HASLO, is constructing a new affordable housing complex in the city.

Local leaders on Thursday helped hammer nails into a new wall on a house under construction at HASLO’s site on Lucca Lane. The wall displayed hand-written notes and well-wishes to future residents.

At the “wall-raising,” Ortiz-Legg talked about housing in SLO County, which she says is mostly unaffordable for residents — especially in District 3, which she represents. Her district includes some of the priciest areas in the county, including much of San Luis Obispo and coastal cities like Pismo Beach.

But she said there’s a lot of activity around affordable housing projects like this one.

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Benjamin Purper
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Local leaders like Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg participate in the wall-raising.

“So many things happening, so much investment. So many people wanting to create companies here and all. And then we have the part where the average person needs to make $6,000 a month to pay for an apartment right now.," Ortiz-Legg said.

The supervisor said local governments are trying to address this, and that affordable housing projects like HASLO’s are part of the solution. But she also said with rents rising all the time, it’s still not enough.

“That is really the reality that we're faced with here," Ortiz-Legg said.

The site is called the Apartments at Toscano, a five-building complex with 38 affordable units, according to HASLO. It’s funded through a mix of public and private funds, and it’s expected to open summer of 2023.

Brianna Johnston is a resident at another HASLO site, and as a single mother, she says moving into an affordable housing unit gave her relief from the high rents in San Luis Obispo.

“Where I came from before, I'm pretty sure like three years ago, it was like easily $1900 a month for a two-bedroom apartment here in San Luis, and that was a lot," she said.

Johnston said as a single mother, having to worry less about rent changed her life.

“I decided to go back to get a bachelor's degree in accounting, and affordable housing has allowed me to free up some time to go to school and to be a mommy most of the time," Johnston said.

Rent at the Lucca Lane site will start in the $400s for a one-bedroom, the $500s for a two-bedroom and the $600s for a three-bedroom, although people with higher incomes would pay higher rates. Utilities are included, and amenities include a community room with kitchen, laundry facility, children's play area and bike storage.

HASLO’s rental application form is online at haslo.org.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.