June 25, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Building Community by Building Lives:

Frank Loweree

Special to the Mirror


Imagine the joy of the young girl, the day she moves into a three-bedroom apartment with her family and gets a small bedroom all to herself, instead of sharing a room with her brothers and cousins. Picture the relief of the man who cuts his commute time three hours each day by moving his family into a more affordable property closer to his job. Listen to the gratitude of the single woman who is able to afford health insurance for the first time, because of the reduced rent she now pays.

These are the stories you will hear from Joan Ling, Executive Director of the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), and there are thousands more like them. Ling oversees all aspects of operating the $11 million a year affordable housing development and property management nonprofit with assets of over $115 million in land, buildings and equipment, primarily in the City of Santa Monica.

“CCSM was formed in 1982 by the Ocean Park Community Organization and Pico Neighborhood Association to preserve and create affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people and families,” says Ling, who earned her M.A. at the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Planning. “In order to accomplish our mission, we buy land, build new housings and purchase existing apartment buildings in need of rehabilitation or management or that are under threat of Ellis Act eviction.”

Recently, Ling was honored for her work by the Fannie Mae Foundation as one of six national James A. Johnson Fellows. Since her tenure began in 1991, CCSM has grown from 300 to 1,200 units on 80 properties (with another 300 units in construction or pre-development) and from controlling $20 million to a total of $200 million in real estate assets.

As a child Ling loved making things with her hands just like her father, a family doctor with a passion for carpentry and cabinetmaking. Today, developing affordable housing allows her to build structures and communities in collaboration with advocates, neighbors, architects, engineers and contractors. Ling feels her late father would be pleased with her accomplishments, just as he was when she built a doghouse from scratch as a girl.

As a real estate consultant with Kotin, Regan & Mouchly, Inc., Ling performed due diligence, market studies, feasibility analyses and real estate negotiations for public and private clients. At the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission, she had operational responsibility over economic development, redevelopment and housing production and preservation, finally becoming Assistant Director of Development prior to joining CCSM.

In 1998, Ling helped pass a City referendum that allows the City of Santa Monica to build up to 2.5 percent of its housing stock as low-income housing. Over the years, CCSM has received a number of prestigious awards from the United Nations, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Endowment of the Arts and the American Institute of Architects among others.

“I like the nonprofit sector because it allows operating effectiveness to coexist with social equity,” says Ling. “Our plans and aspirations here at CCSM are to continue to serve the economically poor and to provide them with stable homes to build their dreams. The City of Santa Monica puts its money where its mouth is by supporting and funding affordable housing, and the housing staff works smart and hard to make things happen.”

For more information, call 310.354.8487. 

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