It’s not often — or ever? — that you hear about luxury apartments being transformed into workforce housing in Southern California, but that’s a trend that’s been gaining real momentum thanks to the pandemic.

Jeffrey Jaeger, co-founder of Standard Communities, and Sean Rawson, co-founder of Waterford Property Company, have been separately spearheading that effort. The result has been lower rents and greater apartment availability for residents making between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income — which, in Los Angeles County, is $80,000 for a family of four.

Both companies, Standard and Waterford, have stood out in the past year for making this rare strategy a reality. The two development firms have acquired and converted enough luxury complexes throughout the region that workforce units now make up a sizable portion of their portfolios.

Among Waterford’s nine-figure purchases this year are Altana, a 507-unit complex in Glendale, and Oceanaire, a 216-unit community a block from the beach in Long Beach. Among Standard’s purchases are Union South Bay Apartments, a 357-unit complex, and Renaissance, a 150-unit community — both in Carson.

These purchases are aided by money from California Statewide Communities Development Authority. The conversion to workforce housing also counts toward state-mandated affordable housing quotas for cities.

“I am passionate about creating homes for people,” Rawson said. “Being in the housing business is a noble profession, and I am driven to create communities where people can thrive.”

Standard’s Jaeger names these “essential housing” deals as his favorites in the past year.

“Every property we acquire is an investment in stronger communities, which drives our success,” Jaeger explained. “Seeing residents who are now proud of their homes, taking advantage of programming to better themselves, [who] can say that they are better off now than previously, is a key element to our definition of success.”

COVID-19 caused this pivot for both firms, and both Rawson and Jaeger now say these conversions are a favorite aspect of their jobs. — J.M.