While new single family housing construction has slowed to a trickle, with only a dozen new permits requested in 2009, Hesperia is experiencing an apartment-building boom, with 64 individual apartments built so far, and 89 more expected to be completed by year's end.


The reason for the boom is simple, says the city's principal planner.


"Primarily, they have funding for them," Dave Reno said Thursday. "Those are projects that have been in the works for a while, and their time has come."


Ground zero for the multi-family housing boom is C Avenue.


"The land along C Avenue, example, has been zoned for multi-family for many years. In fact, before cityhood" in 1988, Reno said. "Our density plans already have that [multi-family housing] in place."


With a backlog of newly built houses sitting unsold in the High Desert and around the country, getting financing to build yet more single family homes is difficult. But developers can get government financing intended to make more affordable housing available when they build multifamily housing.


"Billionaires can't get loans for tract homes, but this money is available and it's in use," Reno said.


What's considered affordable housing is based on calculations done by the county and state.


In San Bernardino County, the median income for a family of four is $57,500. The state says that 30 percent of that family's monthly income is what they ought to be paying in rent, or $1,437 a month. (According to the 2000 US Census, the median income in Hesperia for a family of four is lower: $43,004.)


In order to get redevelopment funds Hesperia uses to pave roads and help businesses in the city, it has to hit certain targets for affordable housing, including having units available for very low income, low income and moderate income renters.


Very low income units cost a maximum of 60 percent of the standard rental rate to renters, or $862 a month for a family of four, with the rest subsidized by tax dollars.


Low income renters will pay $1,150, or 80 percent of the standard rental rate, and moderate income renters can pay up to 120 percent of the expected rental rate, or $1,725 for a family of four.


"We're required that 20 percent of our redevelopment money is set aside for [subsidizing] affordable housing," said Reno. "A lot of the reason multi-family is going up, when nothing else is, is because they're getting some sort of financing."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.