Santa Monica’s Largest Affordable Housing Provider Aims to Improve Accessibility with New Website


Community Corporation of Santa Monica's new website highlights several of the nonprofit affordable housing provider's properties, including this historic building beachfront building.
Community Corporation of Santa Monica’s new website highlights several of the nonprofit affordable housing provider’s properties, including this historic building beachfront building.

Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the city’s single-largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing, has revamped its website in the hopes of improving accessibility.

“We decided to completely rebuild the Community Corp. website to ensure that it was a more useful resource for prospective tenants, existing tenants, and the greater community. Our new website automatically adjusts to all mobile devices and is more user-friendly,” said Sarah Letts, executive director of Community Corporation of Santa Monica.

Among other things, the new website makes it much clearer how prospective residents can get on the nonprofit’s marketing list, which is the first step necessary to apply to live in one of the nearly 1,700 affordable homes (rents are pegged to a percentage of applicants’ household incomes) Community Corporation has built or restored since it was founded in 1982.

The site’s Frequently Asked Questions area gives you an idea of what is meant by affordable: “Typically, our studios rent from $437 to $1,195; 1-bedrooms from $466 to $1,366; 2-bedrooms from $560-$1,622; 3-bedrooms from $647 to $1,853; and 4-bedrooms from $671 to $2,092,” according to the site. However, the site also notes, “These are only guidelines. Actual rents can be higher or lower than any of these estimates. The rent for an apartment is fixed and does NOT change based upon changes to the applicant/tenant’s income.” The emphasis is from the site.

There is a very high demand for Community Corporation’s homes, especially as the lack of housing supply continues to put upward pressure on market-rate rents. According to the website’s “How to Apply” section, “Please note that we usually receive well over 3,000 households requesting housing each year. We usually have about 80 to 120 vacancies per year.”

It also explains requirements and guidelines CCSM follows when vetting applicants.

The site has also been improved for existing CCSM residents. “For people who live in Community Corp. apartments, there is a brand new password-protected section for paying rent online and submitting work orders online,” said Letts.

She also noted that the new site highlights the nonprofit’s commitment not only to providing high-quality housing options for lower-income households, but also to environmental sustainability.

“We encourage everyone to check out the section called ‘Sustain’ where we have links to two interesting videos and summaries of our ‘green’ buildings,” she said.

As one of the city’s single-largest provider of affordable housing, Community Corporation plays a key role in Santa Monica’s commitment to maintaining economic diversity in the community.

Since Santa Monica voters approved Prop R in 1990, the city requires that 30 percent of all new housing built in Santa Monica be affordable, meaning that the rents for those units will be kept artificially low and rented to people whose incomes are low enough for them qualify.

As a result, of all the housing produced in Santa Monica in the past 20 years, 38 percent of it is affordable to low- and moderate-income — as defined by state and federal guidelines — households, according to city officials.

In addition to CCSM and other nonprofit housing developers, for-profit developers have built about 1,000 affordable units in the city, according to Santa Monica’s annual Prop R reports which tracks the number of affordable units approved each year. Most new market-rate housing developments in Santa Monica are required to include a certain percentage of units that will rent to lower-income households below going market rates.


Jason Islas
Jason Islas
Jason Islas is the editor of Santa Monica Next and the director of the Vote Local Campaign. Before joining Next in May 2014, Jason had covered land use, transit, politics and breaking news for The Lookout, the city’s oldest news website, since February 2011.

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