Study finds affordable housing an issue for Naval Weapons Station personnel

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A lack of affordable housing in this area could affect the mission of the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, according to a joint land use study performed by Matrix. The City Council adopted the study at last week’s council meeting. Affordable housing was one of 25 issues identified in the study that could impact the compatibility of the Navy base and the neighboring communities of Seal Beach and Long Beach.

“In Seal Beach and surrounding communities, there is a lack of moderate-to-low income housing that would support military personnel and civilians, which may be an impediment to retaining and attracting personnel, and thus, affect the mission,” the study said.

“I don’t think it is a secret that housing prices in southern California, and especially Orange County and along the coast, are higher than average,” said Gregg Smith, public affairs officer for the Naval Weapons Station. “Just like the rest of the civilian world, this impacts our military families and civilian employees in different ways. Some choose to commute from a longer distance, while others are willing to pay the higher prices to live in the local area.”

According to the “Background Report” section of the study, from 2011-2015, the estimated median income for a Seal Beach household was $55,270. That represented a 31.3 percent increase from 2000, according to the study. (The report, written by the Matrix Group, got the economic and housing data from the U.S. Census Bureau.)

The document estimated the median monthly rent for Seal Beach during 2011-2015 at $1,601. This represented an increase of 54.54 percent in monthly rent from 2000 to 2015, according to the land study.

The median home value for Seal Beach during 2011-2015: $300,400. That represented a decrease of 17.36 percent in the median housing value from 2000 to 2015, according to the land study.

“There are 107 homes available for rent on NWSSB. The base does not have temporary quarters, temporary lodging, a transient facility, or Space A facility, and makes use of local resources to provide these services,” according to the “Background Report” section of the study.

The “Compatibility Assessment” section of the study said: “Moderate-to-low income housing in Seal Beach is limited. “NWSSB directly employs 433 civilians and 1,316 military personnel, including reservists, and creates an additional 1,383 jobs related to operations and payroll.”

“The City of Seal Beach has a total of 13,702 housing units. Of those there are 12,837 owner?occupied units and 1,315 renteroccupied units,” the study said.

“The majority of owner?occupied units in seal beach cost $300,000 or more,” the study said.

“According to the US Census Bureau, the median monthly rent in 2016 was $1,678,” the study said.

The Navy does provide a housing allowance to military personnel. For example, according to a table in the Joint Land Use Study, a seaman recruit, in the E1 paygrade, without dependents received $2,067 a month for housing in 2018.

However, Public Affairs Officer Smith raised an issue with comparing the housing allowance figures to the housing cost figures.

“The two sets of numbers in the background report are from different timeframes and can’t really be used together. The Navy housing allowance figure is for 2018, while the median rent is an average from the years 2011-2015, and thus likely to be significantly lower than current rents,” Smith said.

“Seamen recruits are normally 18-19 years old and much less likely to have a family,” Smith said. “Most of the enlisted personnel here at Seal Beach are in the E4 to E6 paygrades, but I don’t have any data on the percentages that have families with them, or the average number of kids per family. Many military families live in base housing here.”

The JLUS pay allowance table put the monthly housing allowance for an E4 paygrade petty officer third class at $2,067 and the allowance for an E6 paygrade petty officer first class at $2,568.

“While there is no specific ‘housing allowance’ for civilian employees, there is a locality pay adjustment,” Smith said.