Los Lirios Apartments is under construction and set to open in early 2024. Rendering courtesy of ELACC.

Throughout the month of August, area residents will have the opportunity to apply for housing at a new apartment complex in Boyle Heights. Los Lirios, a 63-unit apartment building at the corner of First and Soto –behind the E line station– is one of a number of “affordable” developments coming to the Eastside over the next few months.

Construction site of Los Lirios Apartments. Photo by @lataino.

For many potential tenants, though, the process of applying for affordable housing remains unclear – even with many of those projects in the works for years.

So, who can apply 

The first thing a family or an individual needs to determine is whether or not they qualify for the affordable housing being offered. Following local and federal guidelines that define “affordability,” nonprofit developer East Los Angeles Community Corporation is offering about half of the units at Los Lirios to qualified individuals and families whose total income is below the Area Median Income (AMI).

In 2022 in Los Angeles County, the AMI was $91,000. At Los Lirios, ELACC’s affordable apartments are available for those making less than 60% of the AMI – or less than $71,460. 

While many Eastside residents make much less than the 60% of the AMI, those in the lower rung of the income scale may not make enough money to qualify for affordable housing. ELACC says that potential tenants need to demonstrate that their monthly income is two times the amount of rent that they will be charged.

Area Median Income depending on household size. Chart by ELACC

The rent charged is based on the size of the apartment, the number of tenants and where they fall on one of four income categories – 30% of the AMI, 40%, 50% and 60%. For example, a family of four making less than the 30% or $35,730 would pay $804 for a two-bedroom apartment – much less than what an apartment goes for in the open market in Los Angeles.

Rents charged at Los Lirios according to tenant’s income. Chart by ELACC.

In that example, a tenant’s total income needs to be twice as much as the monthly rent of $804. That means any individual or family making less than $19,296 a year could not afford the apartment and would not qualify.

Then, how do you apply? 

Interested residents must first go through a pre-application process to submit general information from household size and current address to income and general needs. It is also important that applicants share if they currently hold a “Rental Voucher” (i.e. Section 8) from a Housing Authority or have accessibility needs.

Los Lirios apartments opened applications August 1st and will close 11:59 PM PST August 30. ELACC  urges applicants to apply online to ensure they enter the system.

Those experiencing homelessness are recommended and encouraged to apply through the county’s Coordinated Entry System (CES). There are supportive housing units at Los Lirios dedicated for CES referrals. 

Winning the lottery

After this initial process, a computer-randomized lottery is conducted that connects chosen applicants to available units, while the rest are waitlisted. Applicants on the waitlist are contacted if a unit does become available in the future.

It’s important for Eastside residents to know that the application process is open to all county residents and not limited to those living in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles – which minimizes the chances that the new apartments will go to local residents.

For those lucky to be chosen through the lottery, the following documents must be submitted for all listed on the housing application: Birth Certificate and Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Potential tenants over 18 years old will need to present copies of identification, verification of income (i.e. last three months of paycheck stubs, current benefits letter), State and Federal Income Tax returns, current copies of checking, savings, and/or retirement IRA/401k statements. Those who are self-employed or don’t have recent paystubs, will have to submit two years tax returns, most recent 1099-NEC, and Year-to-date profit and loss statement.

Although a credit score is not a requirement, an outside property management company will look at collections, public records, and recent bankruptcies or evictions (additional information or documentation may be submitted). Medical debt and student loans are not taken into consideration.

Applicants not selected for Los Lirios, will have to re-apply for any other affordable housing building they are interested in. Applications usually open six months before construction is completed.

Help is available

On Thursday August 17, from 4pm to 6pm, ELACC is hosting a Q&A zoom session about the pre-application process. This session will cover what is needed to apply, the lottery process, and what to expect when submitting an application. 

ELACC will also be hosting office hours on Friday, August 18th from 9am to 5pm at their office, 2917 East First Street.

Carmen González is a radio host and reporter. She was a youth reporter for Boyle Heights Beat from 2017 to 2019 where they wrote about societal issues and hosted the Boyle Heights Beat podcast, Radio...

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