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Two Habitat for Humanity affordable homes sit vacant in Encinitas

ENCINITAS — In 2018, the City of Encinitas entered into an agreement with San Diego Habitat for Humanity to build two affordable homes for families living or working in the city. But neither of the families have moved in since the homes were constructed this past summer.

Kym McQuiston, a resident living next door to where the homes were built in Leucadia, told The Coast News both homes have remained vacant since a ceremony celebrating their completion in August.

McQuiston said she spoke with a contractor who had worked on the homes, which are located on the northeast corner of Leucadia Boulevard and Urania Avenue, and told her it had to do with the taxes on highly expensive land in Encinitas.

“To me, the stupidity of that and now these houses are sitting here empty, now we’re sitting here wondering what happened,” McQuiston told The Coast News.

Julie Taber, the city’s public information officer, told The Coast News the families who were slated to move in are still planning on doing so after some unforeseen issues are ironed out.

One of two affordable homes recently built in Leucadia as the result of a partnership between the City of Encinitas and Habitat for Humanity. The homes have sat empty since they were completed earlier this year. Photo by Bill Slane
One of two affordable homes was recently built in Leucadia as the result of a partnership between the City of Encinitas and Habitat for Humanity. Both homes have sat empty since they were completed earlier this year. Photo by Bill Slane

“It is challenging to develop affordable housing in our region and our state,” Taber said.  “It is even more challenging to create affordable homeownership opportunities. San Diego Habitat for Humanity and the City of Encinitas are working together to find new and out-of-the-box solutions to the housing affordability crisis. This partnership is forging new ground to create permanent housing affordability for homeowners in Encinitas.”

Both homes are built on land owned by the City of Encinitas, which leases the land to Habitat for Humanity for $1 per year.

At the time, the city said the homes were to be paid through a 30-year mortgage, the monthly payments for not to exceed 30% of the homeowner’s income.

“A ground lease removes the land cost — the most expensive factor in developing homes — from the purchase price of the home thereby making the housing unit affordable to low-income households,” Taber said. “This approach is a new one, and it has taken longer than expected to work out important details related to its implementation.  Our respective legal teams are working to bring this to resolution.”

According to a news release from Habitat for Humanity last year, one of the homes is 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms and the other is a four-bedroom home approximately 1,700 square feet.

According to Taber, the families are currently residing in housing that was provided by Habitat for Humanity, which did not respond to a request for comment from The Coast News.

“The families purchasing the homes in Encinitas are currently in adequate housing and were made aware of the timeline when they initiated their purchases,” Taber said.

McQuiston, who is a realtor by trade, is disappointed with how long the homes have continued to remain empty.

“There’s just a lot of really fishy things and the other cities just seem to be running their cities a lot more smoothly than what we’re doing,” she said.