Category Archive: Affordable Housing

  1. What Should Every Homelessness Plan Include? Housing

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    Image of Colorado Court _Affordable HousingEnding homelessness is simple: Provide people with a home.  While it is a straightforward solution, developing new housing takes time, is costly, and often faces community opposition. Within the existing rental market vacancy rates are low and housing is unaffordable to most, especially those at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

    Recent data make a strong case that homelessness at its core is a housing issue, regardless of other complexities within the population. The June 2018 UCLA Anderson Forecast found strong correlations between high rent and home prices and the number of people experiencing homelessness. In addition, a 2017 Zillow report indicated that a 5% increase in rent in Los Angeles County would result in 2,000 additional people losing housing.

    Recently, LeSar Development Consultants (LDC) worked with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) to assist 17 cities in creating city-specific plans to address homelessness.  The San Gabriel Valley, although just one Service Planning Area (SPA) in Los Angeles County, has nearly 4,300 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.[1] While small in comparison to the City of Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley’s homeless population is larger than those of 31 states nationwide.

    In January 2018, LDC set out on a path to engage each community and their stakeholders to draft a plan for adoption by their city councils at the end of June.  The cities varied in size and demographic composition, as well as in their understanding of homelessness.  Some cities have been working proactively on the issue for years and already had solid strategies on which to build, while other cities were taking their first steps to tackle the issue. As with any project that involves people from diverse backgrounds, our team heard differing opinions on challenges, solutions, and best practices.

    Throughout the process, LDC stayed focused on the vision that housing is the best remedy for homelessness and that cities play a crucial role in encouraging development across the socioeconomic spectrum.  Specifically, cities have a lot of control when it comes to land use, zoning, and siting affordable housing, supportive housing, and shelter. Our work in the San Gabriel Valley underscored the need for all three, both locally and countywide. In fact, in February 2018 the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released a report that identified a gap of more than 21,000 supportive housing units, 10,446 Rapid Re-Housing spots, and just over 3,000 emergency shelter beds to meet the needs of single adults across Los Angeles County. While creating more affordable and supportive housing are no-brainers, I sometimes hesitate to encourage the creation of new shelter beds. Los Angeles County, however, is an anomaly compared to the rest of the country given the sheer number of people living outdoors. Currently, the San Gabriel Valley has only 1,200 temporary housing beds. Three-quarters of the homeless population lives unsheltered on the streets and in riverbeds and canyons.

    It was exciting for our team to celebrate the adoption of the plans by each city council during the SGVCOG City Homeless Plan Summit on August 1st in San Dimas. At the summit, the SGVCOG highlighted the many cities that included strategies to address housing:

    • 16 cities included strategies for affordable housing.
    • 11 cities included strategies for supportive housing.
    • 13 included Rapid Re-Housing.
    • 8 plans included interim housing.

    Obviously, plans are only effective if they are implemented, and cities will need assistance identifying and tapping into available resources to achieve the goals outlined in their plans. However, the planning process generated regional momentum to prevent and address homelessness, and I am optimistic that SPA 3 will see declines in homelessness across the area over the next several years. Remember, ending homelessness is quite simple in concept but hard to achieve.  And it’s a reminder to always ask yourself, “Without housing, where do people ultimately go?”

    Headshot of LDC Principal Kris KuntzKris Kuntz, Principal, is passionate about creating innovative solutions to address homelessness. Prior to joining LDC, he performed agency-wide evaluation activities for San Diego’s largest homeless services agency, that included a drop day center, emergency shelter, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, and a federally qualified health center.  He was an integral part of Project 25, San Diego’s successful homeless high utilizer project and worked with Managed Care Organizations to sustain the project after the United Way’s initial investment. To learn more about LDC’s work with homeless assistance systems, contact him at kris@lesardevelopment.com.

    [1] 2018 Point-In-Time Count data includes the Pasadena Continuum of Care.

  2. Legislature Extends Legacy of 2017 Housing Package

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    California lawmakers continued to build on the achievements of the 2017 housing package by passing a number of bills to address the ongoing housing crisis during the final days of the 2018 legislative session, which ended on Aug. 31. While issues related to land use planning, affordable housing development, fair housing efforts, and homelessness continued to figure prominently in the debate, the Legislature also passed a number of bills to mitigate risks associated with a second crisis: wildfire disasters.  Governor Brown has until Sept. 30, 2018, to sign or veto the bills.

    Land Use Planning

    Both AB 1771 and SB 828, which are awaiting Governor Brown’s signature, would address ongoing concerns that the current Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) distribution process is more often influenced by politics rather than data on housing needs.

    AB 1771, authored by Assm. Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), would substantively change the allocation process by requiring Councils of Government (COGs) to develop their RHNA allocation methodology in consultation with the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) rather than waiting to consult with HCD until they are in the process of developing their allocation plans. The plans would need to integrate statutory objectives related to promoting infill development, advancing socioeconomic equity, achieving greenhouse gas targets, increasing the availability of affordable housing units relative to the number of low-wage jobs, and affirmatively furthering fair housing.

    AB 1771 also calls for COGs to employ a more transparent approach to developing and implementing the allocation process. For example, COGs would also need to electronically publish the results of its survey of members on the proposed methodology and information on how the proposed methodology achieves statutory objectives. The methodology would need to address factors such as housing need, housing burden, overcrowding, and the availability of housing to align with employment and wages. HCD would have 60 days following the public comment period to determine whether the methodology meets RHNA allocation statutory objectives. Another change contained within the bill would prohibit local governments from proposing the redistribution of housing allocations among themselves as part of an appeal process.

    SB 828, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), seeks to establish a more transparent, equitable process for determining each jurisdiction’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). While each jurisdiction is required to plan for its fair share of the regional housing need, the current process does not adequately account for unmet needs due to historically low housing production. Further, the process has been criticized for favoring cities that can apply political pressure to reduce their allocations. SB 828 would allow HCD to include existing households in the number of total projected households when determining RHNA methodology. It would also prohibit COGs from using factors, such as the prior underproduction of housing or stable population numbers from the previous RHNA, in determining the jurisdiction’s future share of housing needs.

    SB 828 would further require the final regional housing need allocation plan to demonstrate government efforts to reverse racial and wealth disparities throughout a region. Specifically, COGs would be required to compare local overcrowding and vacancy rates, as well as the percentage of cost-burdened households, with those of a healthy housing market. Before passing the bill, the Assembly cut language that would have required a city or county to identify an inventory of available land equal to 125 percent of its RHNA requirements for each income category or identify zoning and other strategies to address needs.

    The Legislature also passed AB 829, which was authored by Assm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and designed to discourage local legislative bodies from requiring developers to obtain a letter of acknowledgement or other documentation prior to seeking state funding for a project in their district. Senate amendments refocused the bill’s language to prohibit the use of state funding in any project that requires documentation from a local legislative body or one of its members. The bill was introduced following a Los Angeles Times article on Los Angeles city councilmembers power to block housing developments in their district by requiring, but not providing, such documentation.

    In addition, AB 2923, authored by Assms. David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Timothy Grayson (D-Concord), would streamline the approval process for transit-oriented development (TOD) on infill sites owned by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and located within a half-mile of a BART station. The bill would also require the BART Board of Directors to establish TOD zoning standards by July 1, 2020. Cities and counties within the BART service area would have two years or until July 1, 2022, to adopt an ordinance conforming to the BART TOD zoning standards. If signed into law, the bill would enable BART to fulfill its goal of building 20,000 new units of housing, including 7,000 units of affordable housing, on the 250 acres of developable land it owns by 2040.

    Governor Brown has already signed, AB 3194, which updates the Housing Accountability Act to prohibit jurisdictions from rejecting a development of very low-income, low-income, or moderate-income housing or an emergency shelter without evidence to demonstrate that it would have a “specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety.”  Authored by Assemb. Tom Daly (D-Santa Ana), the law prohibits jurisdictions from requiring rezoning for projects that meet objective general plan standards when local zoning is inconsistent with the general plan.

    The governor also signed AB 1406, which was authored by Assm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego). The new law amends the Education Code to extend the allowable term of specific types of lease agreements entered into by a school district to 99 years and aligns the law with Civil Code. The Education Code had previously prevented school districts from entering a lease-leaseback agreement or lease-to-own agreement of more than 40 years with the entity that constructed the school facility. The maximum term under which school districts can co-locate with another entity through a joint-occupancy agreement has also been extended from 66 to 99 years.

    Affordable Housing Development

    Introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and co-authored by Assms. Jesse Gabriel (D-Van Nuys) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), SB 961 would streamline the process for developing affordable housing near transit in enhanced infrastructure financing districts (EIFDs) in certain situations. EIFDs are government entities established by cities or counties for the specific purpose of financing public and private infrastructure and facilities, including low- and moderate-income housing. This bill would enable EIFDs to enact and form a Second Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement Act (NIFTI-2), which allows for the issuance of bond financing to support affordable housing near transit without voter approval.

    SB 961 also sets forth procedures public financing authorities must follow to develop and adopt an infrastructure financing plan to expend NIIFTI-2 funds. Cities or counties would be allowed to allocate tax revenues to a NIFTI-2 by adopting a resolution, under certain conditions. Specifically, the district would be required to use at least 40 percent of the total funds it receives for rental or owner-occupied housing affordable to households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income (AMI). Rental housing funded through the EIFD would need to remain affordable for 55 years, and owner-occupied housing would have affordability restrictions for 45 years. Half of the total housing funds would be used to develop permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness or households earning less than 30 percent AMI.

    The bill was amended in the Assembly to require an EIFD to set aside at least 10 percent of its total funds to cover capital costs for greening efforts or active transportation capital projects. Other amendments established requirements for public hearings and guidelines to address potential landowner and resident protests of the financing plan.

    Two other bills, intended to make it easier to build accessory dwelling units, did not make it through the Legislature. AB 2890, authored by Assm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would have further revised Accessory Dwelling Unit laws to prohibit local ordinances from imposing certain standards that constrain ADU development and required HCD to establish small home building standards. SB 831, introduced by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and coauthored by Sens. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Scott Wiener, would have significantly rewritten ADU statutes. The bills did not pass at least in part because local governments have only updated local ADU ordinances to comply with recent laws, which went into effect less than two years ago.

    Fair Housing

    The Legislature also took a proactive stance to ensure that all housing and community development programs combat patterns of discrimination and segregation by actively addressing disparities, promoting inclusive communities, and upholding civil rights and fair housing law regardless of whether they receive HUD funding.

    Authored by Assm. Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), AB 686 would require public agencies to be consistent with the final rule to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama Administration. This would require Housing Elements due on or after January 1, 2021, to include an assessment of fair housing with an analysis of fair housing issues and trends contributing to disparate access to housing; goals, strategies, and actions to address factors that contribute to limited housing choice and access to opportunity; metrics to track progress toward goals; and the identification of land suitable for residential development.

    On August 28, Governor Brown signed AB 2219, authored by Assm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). This bill requires landlords to accept security deposits and rent from a third party in a form other than cash or electronic funds transfer. The third party must provide a signed acknowledgement that they are not the tenant. The new law seeks to prevent homelessness by requiring landlords to accept funds from individuals and/or organizations other than the tenant. The third-party payments do not constitute a contract between the landlord and third party, and the law does not prevent landlords from terminating a tenant rental agreement.

    Homelessness

    As part of ongoing efforts to address the public health impact and costs of homelessness, the Legislature passed bills to facilitate supportive housing development, support efforts to reduce youth homelessness, provide matching funds to support employment programs for people experiencing homelessness, and create the Orange County Housing Trust.

    Jointly authored by Assms. David Chiu and Tom Daly, AB 2162 expedites supportive housing development by making it a by-right use in multifamily and mixed use zones under certain conditions. The bill would allow ministerial approval of projects that are 100 percent affordable for low-income households earning up to 80 percent of AMI if 25 percent or 15 of the units, whichever is greater, are set aside for supportive housing. Projects would be required to have a 55-year affordability restrictions, no minimum parking requirements for supportive housing units located within a half-mile of transit, and a plan for on-site supportive services with named partners, proposed funding sources, and staffing commitments. Senate amendments would cap by-right development requirements at 50 units or less in cities or unincorporated areas of a county with a population of less than 200,000 and an annual Point-In-Time count of less than 1,500, although a city or county could approve by-right development for projects of over 50 units. If signed by Governor Brown, the bill would apply to all areas even where local governments are meeting RHNA.

    A second bill, SB 1152, authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Montebello), would require hospital discharge policies and procedures to include specific processes for discharging people experiencing homelessness to ensure that they are not discharged without having a safe place to go. The law would require hospitals to inquire about an individual’s housing status; notify patients about options for housing, shelter, and supportive services based on their best interest and preferences; and identify a post-discharge destination. Assembly amendments eliminate requirements related to coordinating referrals and providing transportation in excess of 30 minutes or 30 miles, and delay implementation until July 1, 2019. In addition, hospitals would be required to maintain a discharge log of patients experiencing homelessness rather than report to the Office of State Health Planning and Development.

    The Legislature also passed SB 918, known as the Homeless Youth Act of 2018 and co-authored by Sen. Scott Wiener and Assm. Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), which would establish additional requirements for the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council focused on the specific needs of youth experiencing homelessness. As of the January 2017 Point-In-Time Count, California was home to more than 15,000 homeless youth, 38 percent of the total homeless youth population nationwide. The requirements include setting goals and outcomes measures; enhancing systems integration and coordination; guiding the coordination of policy, practice, and funding in coordination with stakeholders; identifying best practices; and, providing program development and technical assistance, as funding is available. Assembly amendments eliminated a grant program focused on youth homelessness.

    If signed into law, AB 3085, authored by Assm. Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), would establish the New Beginnings California Program within the Department of Community Services and Development. The program would provide up to $50,000 in matching funding for up to 50 cities or Continuum of Care (CoC) programs to pursue a homeless employment program of their own or expand on an existing one. Cities and CoCs would be able to contract with a qualifying local service provider to operate the program. To qualify, programs would need to connect individuals experiencing homelessness and living in supportive housing with employment through the city, a contracted service provider, or a private entity or prepare people for employment by providing relevant services and resources. Hourly wages must meet or exceed minimum wage. The city or CoC would be required to provide matching funds from charitable contributions or other grant funding.

    AB 448, authored by Assms. Tom Daly and Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), would allow Orange County and any city in the county to create the Orange County Housing Trust, a joint powers authority (JPA) that can receive public and private funding and authorize debt instruments to streamline shelter and permanent supportive housing development. The JPA would fund the development of housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or those with extremely low- to low incomes within Orange County. The legislation was propelled forward by an Orange County Grand Jury report on the benefits of supportive housing and a UC Irvine study that showed the County could save an estimated $42 million on healthcare, law enforcement, and other local and county expenditures by funding supportive housing. The County would also be able to better leverage available funding to attract increased funding from the state.

    One of the bills that stalled in the Legislature was SB 792, which would have required the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to develop and implement a statewide strategic plan to assist CoC lead agencies better implement HUD-recommended activities and better meet HUD requirements.  SB 1010, which would have created a pilot program to provide supportive housing to parolees with mental health conditions experiencing homelessness, also did not pass the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, in part because the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has already established a similar program with one county and because it would require CDCR to pay for mental health treatment for which counties already receive funding.

    Wildfire and Disaster Mitigation

    Governor Brown has already signed AB 1797, the first of several bills to result from the state’s most disastrous wildfire season on record. Authored by Assm. Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), the law will require insurers to conduct a replacement cost estimate that conforms to the State Department of Insurance’s methodology and rules when they sell or renew a residential insurance policy. This bill originated following recent wildfires, after which numerous consumers learned that their insurance coverage was based on outdated replacement costs and therefore inadequate to fully cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding their homes.

    SB 824, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), would further protect consumers by preventing insurers from cancelling or not renewing residential insurance policies in fire-prone regions unless such actions were related to nonpayment, conviction of a crime related to increasing a property hazard, or fraud. Amendments specify that the regulations would not apply if the policy renewal threatened the insurer’s financial solvency.

    SB 894, authored by Sens. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and co-authored by Assemb. Levine, would allow disaster victims with insufficient insurance coverage on their primary dwelling to combine payments under other policy limits up to the total cost of rebuilding or replacing the home. Insurers would also be required to renew policies for at least two renewals or 24 months, with a 12-month extension, following a total loss.

    Two companion bills, AB 1772 and AB 1800, each address different aspects of the Senate bill. AB 1772, authored by Assms. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) and Cecilia Aguilar-Curry (D-Winters), would give wildfire victims 36 months to rebuild their homes and businesses following a catastrophic wildfire and extend the time policyholders can collect the full amount of the insurance payment. AB 1800, authored by Assemb. Marc Levine, would permit policyholders to collect the full replacement cost of their home after a total loss, even if they opted not to rebuild, decided to replace the home at another location, or purchased a home elsewhere.

    Diana ElrodDiana Elrod, Principal, brings more than 30 years of consulting and public sector experience to her work co-leading LDC’s housing policy and real estate finance team. Before joining LDC, she provided strategic counsel and conducted research on Housing and Community Development for the Cities of Lafayette, Belmont, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Mateo, and the County of Santa Clara. She also has completed seven Housing Elements and eight Consolidated Plans for jurisdictions throughout California. She can be reached at diana@lesardevelopment.com.

    Kris Kuntz, Principal, is passionate about creating innovative solutions to address homelessness. Prior to joining LDC, he performed agency-wide evaluation activities for San Diego’s largest homeless services agency, that included a drop day center, emergency shelter, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, and a federally qualified health center.  He was an integral part of Project 25, San Diego’s successful homeless high utilizer project and worked with Managed Care Organizations to sustain the project after the United Way’s initial investment. To learn more about LDC’s work with homeless assistance systems, contact him at kris@lesardevelopment.com.

     

     

     

     

     

  3. Santa Cruz Affordable Housing Bond Ballot

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    Farmworker Housing CoastsideThis November, Santa Cruz County residents will vote on a  $140 million affordable housing bond ballot measure that will be funded through annual property taxes at an estimated $16.77 for each $100,000 of assessed property value. If passed, 75 percent of bond proceeds ($105 million) will be used for new construction of approximately 1,041 rental and accessory dwelling units for low- and moderate-income households, such as public servants, teachers, farmworkers, or people working in the tourism industry. Fifteen percent of the funds will provide shelter and supportive housing for individuals and households experiencing homelessness, and 10 percent will fund first-time homebuyer loans. A broad coalition of business and civic organizations, including the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, and the Monterey Central Labor Council, support the measure.

     

  4. Bay Area Housing Experts Consider Regional Housing Solutions

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    This month, the Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) reached an important milestone. The CASA Technical Committee, a group of housing policy experts from throughout the Bay Area wrapped up development of dozens of action plans designed to tackle the housing and displacement crisis. Now, a subset of those plans will go before the CASA Steering Committee for review.

    For the last six months, members of the CASA Technical Committee drafted, vetted, and voted on ‘action plans’ designed to tackle CASA’s three goals, known as the “Three Ps”:  Protecting vulnerable populations from displacement; Producing more housing; and Preserving existing affordable housing stock. On July 18, the CASA Technical Committee wrapped up this process, having voted on a total of 36 action plans over the last several months.  The conclusion of the action plans’ development marks a significant milestone in the 16-month CASA process.

    Now attention turns to the CASA Steering Committee, comprised primarily of elected officials and other thought leaders, including the Mayors of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.  The CASA Steering Committee will consider the action plans drafted by the Technical Committee over the next several months.

    On Wednesday, July 25, the Steering Committee considered four action plans proposed by the CASA Technical Committee. The four action ideas include efforts to prevent extreme rent increases, no net loss of affordable units, regional inclusionary zoning, and reductions to impact fees.

    Regionwide Rent Control Policy

    The Technical Committee considered several variations of a regional rent control policy to prevent burdensome rent increases. One version of the plan is modeled after existing rent control ordinances in cities like Oakland and San Francisco, which cap annual rent increases according to changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Under this plan, which would require enabling legislation, all municipalities in the Bay Area would be required to adopt a CPI-based rent control policy that meets minimum standards.

    Alternatively, the Technical Committee also considered an anti-gauging measure, which would prevent Bay Area landlords from increasing rent by more than 10 percent per year.  More lenient than CPI-based rent control, this policy is similar to the Emergency Anti-Gouging policy already in place in California, where landlords cannot gouge renters during times of emergency, such as the 2017 fires in Sonoma County.

    No Net Loss/First Right of Refusal

    The “No Net Loss” action plan pursues state legislation that mandates a 1:1 replacement of any rent-restricted or market-rate affordable unit that is demolished. The proposal would require that tenants who are displaced from their homes due to the demolition of affordable units would be granted the right of first refusal to the new units, which would be offered at their previous rental rate.

    Regional Inclusionary Zoning

    Though many Bay Area cities already have inclusionary zoning ordinances, this action plan creates a consistent, regional inclusionary zoning framework. Inclusionary zoning policies require developers to include a certain percentage of affordable units (typically 10-15 percent) in their developments. This policy is one method of creating mixed-income communities and increasing production of affordable units.

    Reduce Impact Fees

    This action plan requires state legislation to change the structure of impact fee imposition with the goal of reducing high costs and confusion in the development process. This legislation would include locking rules and fees at development application completion, changing the imposition calculation from a “per unit” basis to a “per square foot” basis, and reducing or eliminating impact fees on small middle-income developments or deed restricted units. This policy could significantly lower costs for developers while increasing feasible production at lower income levels.

    Next Steps for CASA

    Estolano LeSar Advisors will continue to facilitate the process through December, when CASA aims to compete a Regional Compact that incorporates the top policy recommendations emerging from the process. Visit the CASA website for more information.

    Jennifer LeSarJennifer LeSar, President and CEO, has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, and brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to comprehensive strategic planning for top executives and executive teams to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, historic, and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs. She can be reached at jennifer@lesardevelopment.com.

  5. Berkeley to Vote on Affordable Housing Bond Measure

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    On July 10, Berkeley City Council members approved an affordable housing bond measure to be placed on the November 2018 ballot. If passed, the measure will authorize up to $135 million of general obligation bonds for the development of affordable housing, to be financed by taxes on all taxable properties. The tax burden for the city’s mean home valuation of $425,000 would be about $97, according to the City Council’s staff report. The funds will support housing development or preservation and will target a diverse group of incomes ranging from extremely low-income households to workforce housing, which extends up to 120 percent of the area median income. A March 2018 City of Berkeley Community Survey found that the two most important issues among likely voters is building affordable housing and addressing homelessness, with 58 percent of survey respondents indicating one of the two as their top issue facing the community.

  6. Housing Roundtable Highlights Need Across Income Spectrum

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    Official Photo of Assemblymember Todd GloriaThe San Diego Housing Federation recently hosted a housing roundtable on Building Across the Income Spectrum: Leveraging Resources to Meet a Range of Needs. The panel included Assemblymember Todd Gloria, along with local developers, advocates, and financiers of housing across the income spectrum. The experts addressed the lack of housing for middle-income San Diegans, and its effect on the supply of affordable housing to lower-income households. Some of the solutions outlined were to build more “micro-units” and increase density in urban areas. The panelists encouraged increased collaboration between nonprofit and market-rate developers to deliver more housing units, and to educate residents on the problem of and potential solutions to the housing crisis. Assemblymember Gloria introduced legislation to increase the supply of housing earlier this year. The legislation, AB 2372, would increase the number of affordable workforce and low-income housing units within transit priority areas.

  7. Strategic Growth Council Awards $257 Million

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    The Strategic Growth Council awarded more than $257 million to 19 projects on June 28 in its third round of Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program funding, 71 percent of which will go to disadvantaged communities. The projects aim to help the state achieve its climate goals by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through integrated housing and sustainable transportation planning. To date, the AHSC program has reduced GHG emissions equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off the road. Three of the projects funded through the program include:

    • Willowbrook 2, a mixed-use development that will turn a Los Angeles County-owned parking lots into a mixed-use develop of 100 affordable units and a daycare center through a partnership with LINC Housing Corporation
    • 71 units of affordable housing, which will be developed by Community Housing Works on a former industrially-zoned site along with a mile of walkways, six miles of bike access, and two buses connecting National City and San Diego State University.
    • 1950 Mission Street project, which will create 157 units of affordable housing with a 25 percent set-aside for formerly homeless families, as well as space for artist studios, commercial space, and a child care center, plus a short-term bike loan for residents to access improved bike lanes through a partnership with BRIDGE Housing and the City and County of San Francisco.
  8. Best Practices in Consolidated Planning: Citizen Participation

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    Image of San Diego Consolidated Plan Community Forum FlyerEvery day in communities nationwide, local government officials rely on citizen participation to inform their decisions about local affordable housing and community development needs. In fact, citizen participation is an essential component of the Consolidated Planning process required for communities that receive formula funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Community Planning and Development (HUD CPD).

    The Consolidated Plan citizen participation process can also provide community leaders with a valuable opportunity to build public will for critical affordable housing, homelessness, and community and economic development projects and programs. Communities that will be initiating their Consolidated Planning process in the next year or two should understand HUD’s citizen participation requirements and explore how they can enhance their existing citizen participation plans using the following best practices.

    Citizen Participation Requirements

    HUD’s citizen participation planning guidelines, which are described in the Code of Federal Regulations, emphasize local governments’ responsibility to promote widespread community involvement in the development, monitoring and reporting, and amendment of the Consolidated Plan. This includes:

    • Describing the public hearing, public comment, and publication and distribution requirements for the Consolidated Plan
    • Detailing methods of promoting the participation of local stakeholder organizations and residents
    • Making the planning process and plan transparent and accessible to low- and moderate-income individuals, as well as non-English speakers and people with disabilities, who are most affected by the plan
    • Ensuring that the Consolidated Plan includes anticipated funding levels from grant and program income, proposed activities, and efforts to minimize any displacement of individuals resulting from those activities
    • Providing for technical assistance to groups representing low- and moderate-income residents in developing fund proposals for CPD-funded programs

    Communities can also refer to the HUD Citizen Participation and Consultation Toolkit for a sample timeline, a list of key partners to engage in the process, and a self-assessment and planning tool communities can use to evaluate and improve on past citizen participation activities.

    Best Practices for Citizen Participation

    As part of the Consolidated Planning process, communities are required to employ activities in three different categories: traditional media, online, and data visualization. While communities can opt to incorporate only those activities that meet the “basic outreach” requirements, HUD has also defined additional activities that contribute to a “best practice” approach to engagement.

    Traditional Media

    Activities that fall within the traditional media category range from facilitating the public notice and meeting process to employing alternative methods of public notice, using alternative language media, and engaging public figures and the broadcast news media to encourage citizen participation. For example, the City of San Diego has planned seven community meetings, which will be accessible to non-English speakers and individuals with disabilities, to take place Monday through Thursday evenings from July 10-August 1, 2018. In Duluth, MN, the community development division advertises opportunities for participation on the local television news stations.

    Online Media

    Basic outreach for online media entails sending emails to relevant email distribution lists. In contrast, best practice approaches combine the use of email with social media, web-based surveys that allow respondents to provide data and comments, and virtual public meetings to engage those who are unable to attend in-person meetings. As part of the San Diego Consolidated Planning process, elected officials and community-based organizations received an email asking them to announce upcoming community meetings and the release of an online survey via their social media and email distribution lists, as well as at other community events. The City of San Diego also has a dedicated web page where community members can access more information about the Consolidated Plan process and materials.

    Data Visualization

    Best practices in data visualization build on the use of traditional maps that mark the locations of community assets and investments to include efforts to map the geographic distribution of citizen participation, themed maps related to a particular project or issues, and the use of alternative visual formats such as infographics. The King County Consortium (WA) seized the opportunity to hold a public hearing that allowed people to react to the draft of its plan by visiting a series of conversation stations that used visual aids and targeted questions to elicit feedback on specific themes. Working with the King County GIS Center, the Consortium also created an interactive map that allowed people to zoom in to see different public investments countywide.

    LeSar Development Consultants is currently working with the City of San Diego to develop its 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan, and previously developed the 2015‐2019 Consolidated Plans for the City of San Diego, Kent County (MI), and Santa Clara County, as well as seven cities within that County.

    For additional information and questions about the Citizen Participation Planning process, please contact Erica Snyder at erica@lesardevelopment.com.

    Erica SnyderErica Snyder, Principal, specializes in guiding organizational strategy with an emphasis on strategic planning, change management, strategic positioning, and program development. She previously served as the Director of Homeless Housing Innovations at the San Diego Housing Commission, where she guided the development of Housing First homeless assistance programs, including the creation of the region’s first program to incentivize landlords to rent to households experiencing homelessness, preventing vulnerable populations from experiencing housing instability diverting households from shelter entry, and increasing the permanent supportive housing supply. She currently co-leads LDC’s strategic planning and community engagement practice.

  9. Governor Brown’s Last Budget Invests $5 Billion in Housing

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    Photo of Gov. Brown Signing the 2018 California Budget with State Legislative LeadersWhen Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2018 California State Budget on June 27, he cemented an agreement he made with Democratic legislative leaders earlier in June that will pump $5 billion into programs that aim to increase housing production and reduce homelessness, including a one-time Homeless Emergency Aid Block Grant, first-year funding from SB 2: The Building Homes and Jobs Act, and a variety of programs funded through the Cap and Trade Program.

    Homeless Emergency Aid Block Grant

    The budget allocates $500 million to the Homeless Emergency Aid Block Grant, which will provide jurisdictions with a one-time flexible block grant to tackle immediate challenges related to homelessness. Of these funds, $150 million will be distributed to cities and counties with populations over 330,000 that meet specific requirements based on their regional proportion of the statewide Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. Other jurisdictions will split $250 million based on their homeless populations, with funding ranging from $2 million dollars for jurisdictions with a PIT Count of 250 or fewer people to $60 million for jurisdictions with a PIT count of 4,000-19,999. An additional $100 million will be distributed among Continua of Care with funding proportionate to its percentage of the PIT Count.

    The program will be administered by the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency in consultation with the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council. An additional $500,000 will provide for the expansion and staffing of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, which provides guidance on developing a statewide plan to address homelessness issues.

    Cap and Trade

    Since 2014-2015, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) has received a continuous appropriation equal to 20 percent of the Cap and Trade Expenditure Plan for its Sustainable Communities Program, which facilitates transit-oriented housing and development. The FY 2018-2019 budget include $455 million.

    SB 2: Building Homes and Jobs Act

    The 2018 budget also includes $250 million in first-year funding from SB 2: The Building Homes and Jobs Act, which is expected to generate $250 million annually from a real estate recording fee. Half of the funds will go toward housing and homelessness planning grants. The Emergency Solutions and Housing Program, which will be administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, and Housing for a Health California Program will each receive $57.5 million. An emergency shelter in Orange County and a navigation center in Merced County will each receive $5 million.

    Technical Changes to SB 35

    In addition, SB 850—a housing-related trailer bill necessary to implement the budget—made several clarifying changes to the approval process for affordable multifamily housing projects outlined in SB 35 (Wiener), which was passed as part of the 2017 housing package.  The bill clarifies the percentage of affordable units required for ministerial approval when a locality is not meeting either its moderate-income or its low-income housing allocations, and identifies special flood hazard zones where projects are prohibited from using the streamlining provisions of SB 35. Finally, the bill clarifies that CEQA does not apply to actions taken by a state or local government to provide financial assistance to a development using the streamlining provisions.

    Housing Measures on the November Ballot

    Finally, the FY 2018-2019 budget places two housing-related measures on the November 2018 ballot. Proposition 1, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act, would authorize a $4 billion general obligation bond to fund affordable housing and the CalVet veterans homeownership program. If passed, the bond would provide $277 million in funding in 2018-2019. Proposition 2, the No Place Like Home bond, would speed up the release of $2 billion in bond funding for supportive housing for individuals with mental illness.

    The following table provides a complete summary of the $5.1 billion in state and federal funds for housing and homelessness programs included in the FY 2018-2019 budget.[1]

    2018-2018 Housing and Homelessness Funding
    (in millions)
    Department Program Amount
    Department of Housing and Community Development Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act Programs (SB3) $277
    No Place Like Home Program $262
    Building Homes and Jobs Fund Programs (SB2) $255
    Federal Funds $122
    Housing for Veterans Funds $75
    Infill Infrastructure Grant Program Reappropriation $51
    Multifamily Housing Program – Supportive Housing $39
    Office of Migrant Services $6
    Housing Related Parks Program Reappropriation $2
    Various $15
    California Housing Finance Agency Single Family 1st Mortgage Lending $1,500
    Multifamily Conduit Lending $300
    Multifamily Lending $200
    Single Family Down Payment Assistance $108
    Special Needs Housing Program $30
    Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council Emergency Homeless Aid Block Grants $500
    Strategic Growth Council Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities $455
    Tax Credit Allocation Committee Low Income Housing Tax Credits (Federal) $259
    Low Income Housing Tax Credits (State) $97
    Farmworker Housing Assistance Tax Credits $3
    Department of Veterans Affairs CalVet Farm and Home Loan Program $264
    Department of Social Services CalWORKS Housing Support Program $71
    CalWORKS Homeless Assistance Program $43
    Senior Home Safe Program $15
    CalWORKS Family Stabilization, Housing Component $3
    Department of Health Care Services Homeless and Mental Illness Program $50
    Whole Person Care Pilot Program, Health Homes Program, Mental Health Services Act Community Services and Supports, California Community Transitions Program N/A
    Office of Emergency Services Domestic Violence Housing First Program $13
    Transitional Housing Program $10
    Domestic Violence Shelters and Services $10
    Specialized Emergency Housing $5
    Homeless Youth and Exploitation Program $2
    Department of Public Health Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) $3
    Housing Plus Program $2
    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Integrated Services for Mentally-Ill Parolees $3
    Specialized Treatment of Optimized Programming, Parole Service Center, Day Reporting Center, Female Offender Treatment and Employment Program N/A
    Total   $5,050
    [1] State of California. California State Budget – 2018-2019

    Diana ElrodDiana Elrod, Principal, brings more than 30 years of consulting and public sector experience to her work co-leading LDC’s housing policy and real estate finance team. Before joining LDC, she provided strategic counsel and conducted research on Housing and Community Development for the Cities of Lafayette, Belmont, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Mateo, and the County of Santa Clara. She also has completed Housing Elements and Consolidated Plans for jurisdictions throughout California. She can be reached at diana@lesardevelopment.com.

  10. U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Rejects Proposed Cuts to HUD Funding

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    The Senate Appropriations Committee on June 7 rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget by advancing a bill that includes $44.5 billion in discretionary appropriations, increasing funding by $1.8 billion above FY 2018 levels.

    The Administration had proposed $41.2 billion in FY 2019 funding for HUD, which would have reduced funding by $11.5 billion over FY 2018, eliminated the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership programs, and instituted higher rent levels and work requirements for some programs. The Administration’s proposal also would have resulted in shifting more of the costs of building affordable housing to state and local governments.

    “This bipartisan bill is the product of considerable negotiation and compromise,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), chair of the Subcommittee in an official statement. “The funding in this legislation will allow us to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, while fully funding the renewal of housing assistance for low-income seniors and other vulnerable populations, such as teenagers and veterans who are homeless.”

    Rental Assistance

    The bill includes $42.8 billion in rental assistance funding, which currently supports an estimated 5 million families nationwide. The budget reflects modest increases for tenant- and project-based rental assistance programs, as well as public housing capital and operating funds. Included within the rental assistance funding is $40 million for new vouchers dedicated to homeless veterans. The Administration’s FY 2019 proposed cuts to all three programs and would have eliminated capital funds to repair and maintain public housing.

    The bill renews funding for Housing for the Elderly at the same level as FY 2018 and includes $51 million that would be used to produce new dedicated housing units for seniors. The bill also reduces the FY 2019 appropriation for Housing for Persons with Disabilities to $154 million; however, the decrease reflects on partial-year funding to reflect the time required to put an estimated 30,000 new vouchers funded in FY 2018 into circulation.

     Community Planning and Development

    Similar to the House bill, the Senate bill renews funding for community planning and development at $12.9 billion, and rejects the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the CDBG and HOME programs. These programs, which provide entitlement funds for state and local governments to build housing and address other development needs, continue to have strong bipartisan support.

    Other community development initiatives funded in conjunction with the HUD appropriation include the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. The Senate bill provides $100 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which provides funding for state and local governments to redevelop HUD-assisted housing. The bill reflects a $50 million funding cut from FY 2018, but does not eliminate the program as recommended in the Administration’s budget. The House bill proposed maintaining funding at FY 2018 levels and giving priority to previous planning grant recipients when awarding implementation grants.

    The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which supports an estimated 250 community development organizations nationwide that provide housing and counseling services through the NeighborWorks’ network, would see a budget increase of $7 million under the Senate appropriations bill. The Administration had proposed winding down the program over two years.

     Homeless Assistance

    The Senate bill maintains FY 2018 funding levels for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness at $3.6 million, and increases funding for Homeless Assistance Grants by $100 million to $2.6 billion with an emphasis on housing and services for specific populations, including youth and survivors of domestic violence. Specifically, the bill includes $80 million to support Continuums of Care in developing comprehensive approaches to ending youth homelessness, and $20 million to fund 2,500 rental assistance vouchers for youth aging out of foster care. The bill also provides $50 million to assist an estimated 3,750 survivors of domestic violence to secure housing through Rapid Re-Housing programs.

    The bill also includes $40 million for the HUD Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing program, providing 5,100 new vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness.

    The table below highlights how the Administration, House, and Senate FY 2019 budgets differ from the enacted FY 2018 budget:

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Program Budget

    Program

    FY 2018 Enacted

    FY 2019 Proposed

    FY 2019 House

    FY 2019 Senate

    Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Programs

    $22 billion

    $20.5 billion

    $22.4 billion

    $22.8 billion

    Project-Based Rental Assistance Programs

    $11.5 billion

    $11.1 billion

    $11.7 billion

    $11.7 billion

    Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds

    $7.3 billion

    $3.28 billion

    $7.3 billion

    $7.5 billion

    Housing for the Elderly

    $678 million

    $601 million

    $632 million

    $678 million

    Housing for People with Disabilities (Section 811)

    $229.6 million

    $140 million

    $154 million

    $154 million

    Community Planning and Development

    $7.7 billion

    $2.7 billion

    $7.6 billion

    $7.8 billion

    Community Development Block Grant

    $3.4 billion

    $3.4 billion

    $3.3 billion

    HOME Investment Partnerships Program

    $1.4 billion

    $1.2 billion

    $1.4 billion

    Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

    $375 million

    $330 million

    $393 million

    $375 million

    Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

    $150 million

    $150 million

    $100 million

    Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation

    $140 million

    $27.4 million

    $150 million

    $147 million

    McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants[2]

    $2.5 billion

    $2.4 billion

    $2.5 billion

    $2.6 billion

    U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

    $3.6 million

    $630,000

    $3.6 million

    $3.6 million

    The Senate bill also includes $26.6 billion in FY 2019 discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation, $698 million less than the FY 2018 enacted budget. Congress must pass the FY 2019 appropriations before September 30 or issue a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

    Sources:

    U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. (2018). Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bills, 2019 Report.

    U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. (2018). Subcommittee Approves FY 2019 Transportation, HUD Appropriations Bill.

    U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. (2018). Summary: Subcommittee Approves FY 2019 Transportation, HUD Appropriations Bill.