Affordable housing is one of the most sought-after commodities in the Coachella Valley. The American Dream of owning a home with a white picket fence is out of reach for many — and so is renting.

Nearly 55 percent of Coachella Valley rental households are considered “rent-burdened,” paying over 30 percent of income on rent. The 30 percent threshold is widely recognized as a crucial tipping point after which residents lack enough money for food, energy, education and healthcare expenses.

Every year, Housing and Urban Development determines the area median income (AMI) for every region in the country. Once the median income is established, households earning less than 80 percent of that amount are considered low-income. Those earning less than 50 percent are considered very low-income, and anyone making less than 30 percent of the AMI is considered extremely low-income.

As far as rent goes, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your income. If the average income in your area is $80,000 a year, but you make $35,000 a year, then you could qualify for a subsidy that would help you stay around that 30 percent level for your rental costs.

Riverside County has received a grant to fund a strategic effort to ease the burden of housing costs on Coachella Valley families.

Riverside County, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Lift To Rise, has secured an opportunity to address this regional issue through the support of a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has been accepted by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

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(Photo courtesy of V. Manuel Perez)

“Housing costs are affecting family budgets disproportionately, causing many to struggle to afford other costs of living,” Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said in a prepared statement. “The goal of this collaboration is to produce more housing that is affordable to improve life for families, employers and the entire community. I am optimistic and encouraged that our region can change the paradigm and be a model for the nation.”

 

Over the last four years, Riverside County agencies and Lift To Rise have organized to tackle root causes driving struggle and poverty.

Lift To Rise submitted a grant application to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to enroll the Coachella Valley collaboration as part of a learning community with the Center for Community Investment. The opportunity will help partners develop a strategy to address the housing affordability crisis and leverage and secure resources to advance this critical work.

Of nearly 100 applicants, the Coachella Valley’s Lift To Rise collaboration was one of six regional collaborations in the nation to be selected for this grant.

The Lift To Rise partnership seeks to address the deficit supply of housing that is affordable and focus on strategies to produce more housing units in the valley. Riverside County and Lift To Rise have set a goal of 9,881 new units by 2028 that, if attained, will cut the proportion of rent‑burdened residents by one‑third.

The grant award will cover the project work for two years.

County housing and Lift To Rise staff members will participate in a learning community with the five other grant awardees in Baltimore July 23‑25.

Perez represents the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River, the 4th District is the largest geographical district in the county.