Trade-Off

Terrex Development President Matt Locati (third from right) and his team wait to present Nov. 6 to Seaside’s Board of Architectural Review.

First came a developer with promises of a multimillion-dollar renovation that would end the flooding problem at Del Monte Manor and upgrade this 192-unit subsidized housing complex in Seaside, making it an enviable place to live.

Then, the community nonprofit that owns the complex announced a name change: it will be called H.E.M. Manor after Wilburn Hamilton and Sennie Martin of Greater Victory Temple and G.E. Ellis of Ocean View Baptist, three figures credited with establishing the complex in the 1960s.

But most recently what has come are rent notices. For many households, these mean a sharp increase in what they have to pay; some report a doubling of their current monthly rate.

“All week I have been hearing from families about how they will be unable to pay this new rent,” Erika Matadamas said during public comment at a Nov. 7 meeting of Seaside City Council. “This injustice for [the people] who call Del Monte home will leave residents no option but to seek substandard housing such as garages.”

Darryl Choates, president of the nonprofit’s board, and developer Matt Locati of Terrex Development, say that at least for some residents, the increases were caused by their failure to provide income documentation. Now that more residents are submitting their paperwork, rents will be recalculated to match their income level, per the federal government’s formula.

But, Locati and Choates add, some residents have unfairly benefited from below-market rents even while earning income at or above a threshold known as the Area Median Income. Such residents are occupying apartments that should be going to people in greater need, they say.

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“If your household is making $100,000, you should not be up there,” Choates says. “Some people don’t want to show their income and it’s coming out now and they are not happy.”

On average, each apartment in the complex will see about $147,000 in renovations. The money will be generated through a complicated transaction orchestrated by Locati’s company. To encourage investment in low-income housing, federal law entitles such projects to collect a tax credit. Corporate investors buy the credits, providing the funding for construction.

Last year, however, the Trump administration lowered corporate taxes, decreasing the value of the credits and, indirectly, reducing the money available to subsidized low-income housing.

“We don’t want to put nobody out on the street,” Choates says. “But we have to make sure the place is able to survive for another 50 years.”

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Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers higher education, the military, the environment, public lands and the geographic areas of Seaside, Monterey, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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