New affordable Boyle Heights housing is not as affordable as some tenants expected

Tenants finally began moving into the former Boyle Hotel, the Victorian-era Boyle Heights landmark that has been renovated and turned into 51 units of affordable housing.  But as the new residents prepared to move into their new apartments across from Mariachi Plaza, many discovered that the rent they would be paying would be much higher than expected, according to the L.A. Times.  It turns out the East Los Angeles Community Corp., the nonprofit developer of the $24 million project, had used the wrong formula to calculate rents on the apartments that are reserved for those with low and moderate incomes.  Rents at the former Boyle Hotel are still low compared to market rates but way above what some tenants had initially been told, said the Times:

Benjamin Barboza, 52, a mariachi musician who lives with his wife and five children in a house a block down Boyle Avenue, applied to live at the Boyle Hotel earlier this year. In preparation, he sold the possessions that wouldn’t fit into the three-bedroom apartment, such as a washer, dryer and his children’s bicycles. He was quoted $658 monthly, but when he arrived to pick up the keys, property managers informed him that his rent would be $1,048.

“I feel deceived, defrauded and sad at the same time,” Barboza said. “In reality, this was for my children, not for me.”

An official with the developer told the Times the firm is now in the process of making “rent concessions” on an individual basis.

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  1. I’m sorry you feel defrauded for paying half what you should for a 3bdrm in that neighborhood. PS you’re welcome.


    • Look at it this way. You sign a lease for a new place that fits your budget, you give notice at your current place, and once you move in, your rent increases 60% (which you may or may not be able to pay). That situation sucks for anyone, and I hope that the tenants had the projected rents in writing before they made plans to exit their current living situation.

      • Yes, but if he actually has a lease they they cannot arbitrarily increase his rent. From the quote above it sounds like he only applied and then made the unwise decision to sell a bunch of his stuff. He was quoted a price that turned out not to be correct. Sad for him but the situation looks far less nefarious that you think….

        • It’s not a question of the situation being “nefarious.” I’m sure no one intentionally tried to defraud or lie to tenants. However, it IS a case of bureaucratic incompetence, and profoundly unfair to prospective tenants. Incorrect representations were made to them about the amount of the rent, and the prospective tenants quite reasonably relied on those representations. If I visit an apartment for rent and the landlord says the rent is $500/month, and then when I move in the rent is $1,000 – that’s just completely wrong. I’ve given up my old apartment, sold stuff, come up with funds for first and last – changing the rent at the last minute is just such bad business practice. If the mistake was the owner’s, THEY should bear the brunt of their own mistake, not the poor tenant!

          • Agreed, bad business practice. But until you have a signed lease in your hand it’s not a done deal. Plus, as someone else posted below, a newly renovated 3 bdr apartment at $1048 a month seems like a steal. $658 per month would be a huge housing subsidy , beyond affordable. They spent 24 million to renovate 51 units? That seems the real scandal to me.

    • Yeah, how is paying $1048 for a 3 bedroom apartment NOT affordable?

  2. If he wants to do something good for his children, he should stop having them. Five is too many for most people to afford, especially for someone who makes a living playing mariachi music.

    • …and the moment you bring the subject up, they get offended.

    • Yes, it is amazing to me that the people who cant afford children keep having them… so sad that their “little gifts from heaven” end up costing me money.

      Maybe they are my “little gifts from hell”

  3. “$24 million to renovate 51 units?”

    Ouch. You could probably buy 51 houses in Boyle heights for $24 million.

    • Wow, when you think of it that way ELACC could have established and renovated an entire HPOZ for the same cost of this hotel. Crazy money.

  4. Yes, that’s over $470 K per unit…much more than the price of a house in this area…

  5. Thats terrible but all I can think of is that I pay $1000 for a 1 bedroom. I wish I could pay the same for 3 bedrooms.

  6. $1048 for a 3 bedroom apartment is deal.

  7. Mariachi charge 400.00 an hour! and are always booked! not to mention their tips! haha. Plus that’s a shame that it cost so much to build! They should have just fixed up the oriiganal building only, the new part doesn’t even match. $24 million is alot of money! like lisa says!

    • I was just quoting eastsidearts. It’s an interesting historical building, and no doubt complicated to renovate, but, yeah, you could do a lot with $24 million. And although this guy was mislead, it’s hard to complain about a three bedroom apartment — right at a Gold Line station — for $1058.

      ELACC seems to have some serious management issues, as this kind of formula for calculating subsidized rents should be their area of expertise.

  8. Mariachi charge $400.00 an hour, and they are always booked up! not to mention the tips.
    What a waste of money $24 million, the new part doesn’t even match the Boyle Hotel.
    Yes $1048 is a steal for a 3 bedroom brand new apt. There is Marivilla Projects not to far, that look as nice as these new apt and are well taken care of.

  9. Someone made a lot of money off of this project……. I smell shenanigans.

  10. Is easy to add a comment, But I am a long time CD14 resident, This project cost alot of public funds, I do remmember that CRA alocated alot. ELCC should explain all the public funds it recibe to completed this. Many times to recibe the support to recibe the $$$$ they said that Mariachis will have preference, By law all people can apply. Some people will said ELCC is doing great. I will said look at the Buildings they build and are agly, Our Community is a Historical and they new Buildings do not Fit in…….

  11. Here’s what you have to understand about affordable projects: 1. The developers are usually required by the terms of their financing to use prevailing wage labor, which translates into MUCH higher construction costs; and 2. The developer’s profit is calculated as a percentage of the overall project cost, so there is little incentive to keep costs down (so long as the rents can service the debt).

    For what it’s worth, I agree that the price is pretty crazy. You can easily, easily build brand new apartments for $400k / door (actually, much less).

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