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Affordable housing in Los Altos comes on the market

Every few years, the local real estate market lets daydreams root in reality, at least for one family.

A one-bedroom apartment in the Los Altos Gardens complex recently came on the market for $981 a month. Part of a city-sponsored affordable housing program, the “below market rate” (BMR) unit is reserved for low-income candidates.

Based on Santa Clara County income averages, an eligible single person could make no more than $37,150, with the income limit rising with family size. Qualified buyers are entered into a lottery for BMR units, with candidates such as local teachers, police officers, firefighters and city employees given preference.

Los Altos established the BMR homeownership program in 1995 to provide housing options for a select few of the people who otherwise can’t afford to live in the city. The homes are deed restricted for 30 years, meaning that they can’t be resold at market rates or rented out. The program aims to provide more homes, not investments, in Los Altos. The city determines an affordable sales price for each unit, and Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley administers the program.

The city requires that developers of multifamily housing projects set aside units for low-income applicants in exchange for incentives such as eased requirements for parking or development area.

Four townhouses at Sherwood Gateway went on the market for $461,913 last month, drawing 31 applicants. They’re part of a 38-unit development by Lennar Homes just off El Camino Real. Those houses had an $85,235 income cut-off for a single applicant. Two one-bedroom and one two-bedroom units in the 100 First St. development are expected to open for application soon, and 17 more rental units may hit the market later this year. The rental deadline for the Los Altos Gardens apartment is 4 p.m. Friday.

Applicants must apply through a BMR program with multiple eligibility requirements.

For more information, visit bmrnhssv.org.

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