Category Archive: Funding Alerts

  1. Fannie Mae Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge

    Comments Off on Fannie Mae Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge

    Image of Fannie Mae Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge LogoIn late December, Fannie Mae announced a $10 million, two-year Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge aimed at addressing the affordable housing crisis by advancing communities that provide residents opportunities for employment, health and wellness, and education. The first phase of awards will focus on the intersection of affordable housing and economic development in communities with strong employment opportunities and high housing costs, as well as improving access to quality employment opportunities for residents of existing affordable housing. The Challenge is open to public, private, and nonprofit sector organizations, and cross-sector teams are encouraged to apply. The Request for Proposals was made available December 17, 2017, and applications for the first phase of awards are due February 23, 2018.

  2. Alameda County Housing Bond Funding Now Available

    Comments Off on Alameda County Housing Bond Funding Now Available

    In October 2017, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the first four permanent financing resolutions using funds from Measure A1, a November 2016 bond measure to create and preserve affordable housing. In Oakland, the Fruitvale BART project will receive $6.35 million to build 94 units and the EMBARK homeless housing project will receive $2.7 million to build 70 units. The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation and the Unity Council will develop the Fruitvale project with the EMBARK units under development with Resources for Community Development. In Pleasanton, the Kottinger Gardens II project will receive $4.6 million for Mid Pen Housing to develop 54 units in Pleasanton. In addition, the Grayson Street project in Berkeley will receive $691,394 for Satellite Affordable Housing Associates to develop 24 affordable units.

    As in other parts of the state, affordable housing is badly needed in Alameda County.  HUD’s 2017 annual assessment found that 5,629 people are homeless, including 68.6 percent who are unsheltered, the fourth highest unsheltered rate in the nation.

    In November 2016, nearly three-quarters of Alameda County voters cast their ballots in favor of Measure A1, which will raise $580 million to provide affordable local housing and prevent displacement for low- and moderate-income households, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities. Funds will also be allocated to permanent supportive housing, and to assist low- and middle-income households in purchasing homes.

    Liz Tracey is an expert on affordable housing and community development finance using tools such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credits. For information about affordable housing and community development financing resources, contact Liz Tracey, Senior Principal, LDC at liz@lesardevelopment.com.

     

     

  3. Unlocking Land for High-Impact Development

    Comments Off on Unlocking Land for High-Impact Development

    Modern apartment buildingThe most recent forecast shows that California needs 1.8 million new homes by 2025 to keep pace with population growth, projected to reach 39 million to 50 million by 2050, yet annually produces fewer than half the homes necessary to meet those needs. As a result, cities and counties throughout the state now face an unprecedented affordable housing crisis that threatens economic growth.

    While new sources of housing financing are part of the solution, many jurisdictions are also taking steps to maximize the development potential of existing land. According to the widely circulated “A Blueprint for Addressing the Global Affordable Housing Challenge” and its California companion report “Closing California’s Housing Gap,” both published by the McKinsey Global Institute, efforts to “unlock land” are the most important measures jurisdictions can take to reduce the costs associated with housing production. This is especially true in California where the growing population and limited availability of buildable parcels makes it imperative to prioritize sites based on their capacity for high-impact development.

    In recent years, many jurisdictions have turned to transit-oriented development to unlock land with existing infrastructure near transit hubs and corridors. Since 1995, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has routinely sought opportunities to collaborate with developers to increase transit use by building pedestrian-friendly communities on Metro-owned properties. To date, the agency has completed more than 2,017 housing units, as well as nearly 1.5 million square feet of combined retail and office space, across 18 projects. In 2015, the agency updated its joint development policies to require that 35% of the total housing units be affordable to households earning no more than 60% of the area median income.

    San Diego has also taken steps to develop or repurpose government-owned land. In June 2017, San Diego County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts announced an affordable housing initiative that included identifying 11 county-owned properties for evaluation to determine whether they can be redeveloped. County officials are currently evaluating these sites to determine the feasibility of different redevelopment options.

    Other jurisdictions are working with private landowners to spur development on underutilized or idle land. Last year, Alameda County passed a general obligation bond to provide $580 million in funding for affordable housing initiatives. One initiative capitalizes on the interest faith-based and community organizations expressed in developing their available land and buildings for affordable housing. To launch the Housing Development Capacity Building Program, the County Board of Supervisors has allocated $750,000 to provide qualifying organizations with the capacity development and training necessary to convert their assets into affordable housing. The County also seeks to leverage its contribution with other resources to expand its services.

    In addition, more communities—including Santa Monica—are adopting inclusionary zoning policies. In July, the Santa Monica City Council voted to require most new developments to set aside up to 30 percent of units for low-income households.

    As local governments seek to resolve the affordable housing crisis, they will need more innovative strategies to spur development by unlocking land. By analyzing how available land is currently used, local governments can determine which locations offer the greatest potential for lower-cost, high-impact housing development.

    To learn more about LDC’s policy services, contact Artemis Spyridonidis, Senior Associate, at artemis@lesardevelopment.com.

    LeSar-Artemis-4x5Artemis Spyridonidis covers housing policy issues, including structural solutions to the housing affordability crisis, consolidated plans, housing elements, accessory dwelling unit policy implementation, and regional issues across the state of California.

  4. San Diego Considering Pilot Program to Reduce ADU Fees

    Comments Off on San Diego Considering Pilot Program to Reduce ADU Fees

    ArtemisSenior Associate Artemis Spyridonidis addressed the San Diego City Council on July 24th, before it approved amendments to the Land Development Code and the Local Coastal Program to modify the City’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations.

    Her comments focused on the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee’s recommendation that the City Council approve a two-year pilot program during which ADU fees would be reduced to a flat fee of $2,000 – down from the current fees of approximately $28,300. Although it wasn’t part of the resolution that day, the City Council may still have an opportunity to approve this program, and it’s our hope that the pilot program will be created, as it could create a great boost in ADU production.

    LDC studied San Diego’s ADU fees and compared them to the fees of several other major cities. We found that there is a direct correlation between fees and the number of units built; the lower the fees, the more units built.

    For example, Portland, Oregon, charges approximately $1,300 in fees and approximately 350 ADUs have been built there each year since 2015. Santa Cruz charges around $12,800 in fees and approximately 50 units have been built each year since 2015. Finally, in San Diego, fees are approximately $28,300, and the city estimates that only 10 ADUs are built here each year. A two-year pilot program establishing a flat fee of $2,000 is a much needed policy change to encourage ADU development.

    As naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH), ADUs can help fight the displacement that typically occurs when neighborhoods gentrify and rents and housing prices climb, as they have in recent years in San Diego. This type of urban infill is also environmentally friendly, reducing commute times and urban sprawl. By allowing people to stay in their own communities, among their own neighbors, families, and friends, ADU development will help maintain networks that create wellbeing for all San Diegans.

    To learn more about LDC’s policy services, contact Artemis Spyridonidis, Senior Associate, at artemis@lesardevelopment.com.

    LeSar-Artemis-4x5Artemis Spyridonidis is covering housing policy issues, including structural solutions to the housing affordability crisis, consolidated plans, housing elements, accessory dwelling unit policy implementation, and regional issues across the state of California.

  5. Harvard Report Calls for Expanded Range of Housing Options

    Comments Off on Harvard Report Calls for Expanded Range of Housing Options

    Harvard_2017_Housing_ReportNational home prices reached pre-recession peaks last year despite home prices exceeding previous highs in only 41 of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, according to a recent report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. High-income neighborhoods saw significantly greater gains than low-income neighborhoods, resulting in regional growth patterns that show price appreciation along the East and West Coasts and declines in the Midwest and South.

    The impacts of historically low construction on housing supply have disproportionately affected the entry-level housing market and tightened the rental market where prices have far outpaced inflation. While household growth rates have picked up largely due to gains among the millennial generation and immigrants, rates are expected to slow again as the baby-boom generation declines.

    To meet the demand for affordable housing, the report calls for national policies to address the diversity of housing markets nationwide, and for state and local governments to take the lead on developing policies and securing resources to meet the unique needs of their communities. Read more…

    For more information about innovative approaches to policy and real estate development, contact Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO at Jennifer@lesardevelopment.com.

    Jennifer LeSarWith more than 25 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, Jennifer LeSar brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, and historic and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs.

  6. New AHSC Grant Guidelines Approved, ELP Advisors Again Provides Technical Assistance

    Comments Off on New AHSC Grant Guidelines Approved, ELP Advisors Again Provides Technical Assistance

    AHSC Sustainable CommunitiesCalifornia is gearing up for Round 3 of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grant program, and ELP Advisors will once again play a key role in providing technical assistance to select applicants.

    On July 17th, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) approved new guidelines for the next round of AHSC grantmaking. Earlier this month, the council announced that LDC’s affiliate, Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors, in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, has once again been chosen to provide technical assistance to qualifying AHSC applicants. We are excited to continue our successful partnership with SGC and to team with Enterprise in providing comprehensive assistance to applicants across California.

    The new AHSC guidelines make some important changes since the last round, many in response to feedback from applicants. We are hopeful that these changes will make the application process less cumbersome, more effective and allow a wider range of communities to be competitive for funding. Here’s a rundown of the major changes:

    Bye bye, concept app: Repeat AHSC applicants will be happy to learn that concept applications are no longer required. They have been replaced with a checklist and an optional consultation with SGC staff. This change should greatly streamline the application process and give applicants a good idea of their competitiveness prior to investing time and money into a detailed application. A host of other, smaller changes are also aimed at streamlining and simplifying the process.

    New housing and anti-displacement requirements: The guidelines strengthen and, in some cases, add new requirements aimed at ensuring AHSC funds flow to communities that are complying with state housing law and protecting vulnerable communities from displacement.

    Changes to include more rural projects: Thanks to changes to the net density requirements, projects across a wider spectrum of rural communities will now be eligible for AHSC.

    Indian Tribes now eligible: Federally-recognized Indian Tribes are now eligible to apply for AHSC grants.

    New threshold criteria: Several scoring elements that were optional last year have become mandatory, known in AHSC lingo as “threshold” requirements. These include certain housing affordability and urban greening elements.

    You can review the new guidelines here.

    With the guidelines adopted and the technical assistance team in place, Round 3 of AHSC grantmaking will get underway this fall. The notice of funding availability (NOFA) will be released in October, applications will be due in January, and awards will be announced in May.

    Even before the NOFA is released, the council will begin the process of selecting applicants to receive free technical assistance from ELP Advisors and Enterprise. No details yet, but we expect there to be an announcement in August. We’ll keep you posted.

    For more information about AHSC grants and technical assistance opportunities, please contact Autumn Bernstein, Principal, at autumn@elpadvisors.com.

    LeSar-Autumn-5x7Autumn Bernstein, Principal, Estolano LeSar Perez (ELP) Advisors, is an expert in urban planning, transportation, housing, and environmental policy. She has 15 years of experience as a policy advocate, strategic advisor, non-profit executive and facilitator in communities across California. Autumn is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and lives in El Cerrito.

  7. Legislature Passes Cap and Trade, Delays Vote on Affordable Housing Measures

    Comments Off on Legislature Passes Cap and Trade, Delays Vote on Affordable Housing Measures

    After months of intense negotiations, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators reached an agreement to extend cap and trade until 2030. On Monday, the Legislature voted to approve two bills that will assure the continuation of the market-based climate program. Legislative leaders also announced that they are postponing a vote on several affordable housing bills until August.

    Cap and Trade

    Gov and State Lawmakers Unveil New Plan to Extend Cap and TradeYesterday’s vote on Assembly Bill 398 (Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella) will require the California Air Resources Board to establish a firm upper limit for the price of allowances or permits to emit one metric ton of greenhouse gases. The current cap-and-trade system set a floor for prices but did not have a fixed ceiling to prevent prices from rising.

    Assembly Bill 617 (Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens; Eduardo Garcia, and Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles) requires stricter air pollution monitoring around industrial facilities and tougher penalties for violating pollution regulations. This benefits communities located near these facilities.

    “Today’s vote on AB 398 to extend Cap and Trade marks an important milestone in the fight against climate change,” said Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who previously led efforts to direct cap and trade funding toward transit-oriented affordable housing projects while serving as Speaker of the Assembly. “Without this extension, California would have been in serious danger of failing to meet our ambitious, world-leading climate goals.”

    Passage of these bills represents a second milestone in assuring the future of cap and trade. In June, California’s Supreme Court upheld an appeals court’s approval of the program. Opponents had challenged the program as essentially amounting to an unauthorized tax.

    Affordable Housing

    Senate Bill 2 Leaps Forward in the State AssemblyAmid Monday’s debate on cap and trade, the Governor, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon issued a joint statement reaffirming their shared commitment to address California’s housing needs when the Legislature resumes in August.

    “Astronomical housing costs are straining family budgets and stress employees who can’t afford to live where they work. That’s unacceptable, and it’s why the affordable housing crisis has been one of our top priorities. The package of legislation we are all working on will help ensure Californians won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to have a roof over their head.”

    The package of bills under consideration includes the Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB 2), which was authored by Sen. Atkins and 12 co-signers and gained momentum on July 12th following an approval vote in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and a motion that allowed the bill to bypass the Appropriations Committee and move directly to the Assembly Floor.

    The Building Homes and Jobs Act establishes a permanent funding source that will increase California’s supply of affordable homes, create jobs, and spur economic growth. Ongoing revenues would be obtained through fees on real estate document filings, excluding residential and commercial property sales. Fees would not exceed $225 per transaction.

    Modeled on the Building Homes and Jobs Act bill (AB 1335 — Atkins), SB 2 would address the urgent need for affordable housing funding lost through the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies in January 2012. The bill would generate an estimated $200 million annually following implementation in 2018.

    According to the bill’s sponsors, the California Housing Consortium and Housing California, SB 2 will create approximately 29,000 jobs for every $500 million raised, primarily in the construction sector. The bill would also leverage an additional $2.78 billion in federal, local, and private sector investment.

    Other bills that will be under consideration by the Legislature include:

    Senate Bill 3, the Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 (Beall, D-San Jose), which would authorize a ballot measure asking voters statewide to approve $3 billion in bond financing for rental housing and existing housing programs in the November 2018 election.

    Senate Bill 35 (Wiener, D-San Francisco), which would eliminate multiple local planning reviews for individual projects that meet certain zoning and affordability standards. Under provisions negotiated with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, projects of more than 10 units that qualify for expedited approval would pay union-level wages to construction workers, and developers of some larger projects would have to agree to union-standard work rules or apprenticeship programs.

    Assembly Bill 45, the California School Employee Housing Assistance Grant Program (Thurmond, D-Richmond), which would require the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to administer a $25 million predevelopment grant and loan fund for the creation of affordable housing for school district employees.

    For more information about innovative approaches to policy and real estate development, contact Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO at Jennifer@lesardevelopment.com.

    Jennifer LeSarWith more than 25 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, Jennifer LeSar brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, and historic and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs.

  8. Promoting Housing Affordability: Collaboration Key to Improving Policy, Market Conditions

    Comments Off on Promoting Housing Affordability: Collaboration Key to Improving Policy, Market Conditions

    Two recent events—the Terner Center for Housing Innovation Conference and the release of the UCLA Anderson Forecast—examined the role of market conditions and public policy in the current housing crisis, and what can be done to improve housing affordability in high-cost regions.

    LA Aff HousingAt the Terner Center for Housing Innovation Conference, Enrico Moretti, Professor of Economics at the University of California – Berkeley, pointed to the weak housing supply as a “self-inflicted problem” related to zoning and land use restrictions, CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), construction delays, and the proliferation of lawsuits. He also cited new research showing that underdevelopment limits access to jobs, which results in opportunity costs of $7,000 per year for the average Bay Area worker. It also contributes to rising inequality and depresses the State’s economy.

    The situation is similar in Los Angeles, where the growing number of rent-burdened households makes it difficult for people to escape poverty and increases the need for renter assistance, according to Stuart Gabriel, Professor of Finance and Arden Realty Chair at the University of California – Los Angeles Anderson School of Management.

    What can be done to address these issues? Solutions raised by the speakers and panelists include:

    • Updating zoning codes to allow for ADUs and multi-family development,
    • Implementing consequences for localities that fall short of RHNA goals, and
    • Revising parking requirements that restrict development, especially as transportation innovations transform commuting and travel.

    In addition, speakers at both events cited the need for greater regional and local collaboration. In a conversation with the Terner Center’s Carol Galante, Shaun Donovan, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, acknowledged Congress’s limited appetite for investing in infrastructure and the economy and encouraged regional and local leaders to come together to build the public will for local solutions. He also cited examples of successful interagency collaboration from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which brought together the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help communities improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment.

    Along similar lines, one of the panels at the UCLA Anderson Forecast discussed the need to help planning agencies and communities rethink the meaning and importance of “affordable” housing as part of the larger housing continuum. By building housing across every income level, communities will not only reduce inequality, they will also strengthen the economy.

    For more information about innovative approaches to policy and real estate development, contact Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO at Jennifer@lesardevelopment.com.

    Jennifer LeSarWith more than 25 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, Jennifer LeSar brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, and historic and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs.

  9. The Battle to Extend Cap-and-Trade Intensifies

    Comments Off on The Battle to Extend Cap-and-Trade Intensifies

    Smokestack PlantCalifornia’s Supreme Court has upheld an appeals court’s approval of the greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. Opponents such as the California Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and Morning Star Packing Company had challenged the program as essentially amounting to an unauthorized tax.

    However, the issue of whether cap-and-trade has the authority to continue operating past 2020 continues to pose a challenging debate.

    According to the LA Times, after signing the new state budget in June, Gov. Jerry Brown has intensified efforts to reach a deal with lawmakers on a blueprint for California’s future climate change policies. Advisers believe an agreement to extend the cap-and-trade program can be reached in July.

    In a shift from recent quarterly auction results, nearly all of the permits offered by the state in its latest cap-and-trade auction were purchased, generating an estimated $500 million in revenue. Auction proceeds fund environmental, infrastructure and affordable housing programs.

    Three bills were introduced this year to extend the program after its 2020 expiration date. SB 775 (Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont), would establish a stable structure for the carbon pricing program, eliminate allowance banking, and include a border tax on the import of specific high-GHG intensive products. Under SB 775, revenue from cap-and-trade would raise several billion dollars annually and climb steadily over time, with California consumers receiving a “climate dividend rebate” from quarterly auction revenues. The California Climate Equity Coalition is advocating for “a means-tested dividend that focuses on low-income households most burdened by energy costs as the primary beneficiaries. Dividends to individuals should be balanced by continuing robust public investments that will help Californians transition to a clean energy economy, including clean transportation, affordable housing near transit, transit operations and passes, urban forestry, energy efficiency and solar.”

    The price of a metric ton of carbon dioxide has a rising price floor, currently set at $13.57 per metric ton. SB 775 establishes a floor and ceiling “price collar,” with bidding starting at $20 and $30 per metric ton in 2021, rising to $20 and $40 in 2022, and then increasing each subsequent year by $5 and $10. The ceiling would exceed the price of carbon in most European nations, and would be higher than the $37 tax in Canada starting in 2022. By 2030 the ceiling could eventually surpass Sweden’s carbon tax of around $150 per metric ton, the most expensive in the world. Passage of the new measure will require two-thirds majority approval in both houses of California’s legislature.

    Assembly Bill 378 (Christina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens), which proposed extending cap-and-trade to 2030 and requiring facility-specific air pollutant emissions standards after 2020, failed in the Assembly on June 1st. Another bill, AB 151 (Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood, and Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove), that would have made cap-and-trade permanent never came up for a vote.

    For more information about innovative approaches to policy and real estate development, contact Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO at Jennifer@lesardevelopment.com.

    Jennifer LeSarWith more than 25 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, Jennifer LeSar brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, and historic and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs.

  10. San Diego Supervisors Approve $25 Million Investment to Address Homelessness, Affordable Housing

    Comments Off on San Diego Supervisors Approve $25 Million Investment to Address Homelessness, Affordable Housing

    SD Investment in Addressing HomelessnessThe Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a plan to invest $25 million from county reserves to increase the supply of low-cost housing in the region. The funds will cover costs associated with permits and regulatory fees, loan repayment, property purchases, equipment leasing, and other related expenses, and will be used to leverage funds from other federal, state and private resources to generate developments that include high-density projects near grocery stores, health services, mass transit lines and other conveniences.

    The Supervisors also designated 11 surplus county-owned properties to create more affordable homes. The targeted parcels range from undeveloped or minimally developed lots as well as aging buildings that could be redeveloped into new apartment complexes benefitting those at risk of homelessness. Nine of the properties are within the city of San Diego.

    In addition, the plan allows Supervisor Roberts to transfer $500,000 of the funds he gets annually under the county’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency to underwrite pre-development and planning activities.