Category Archive: State Updates

  1. State Homeless Council Chair Announces Plan for Emergency Aid

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    Image of CA Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council websiteAt the July 2018 meeting of the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC), Council Chair Alexis Podesta announced plans for distributing $500 million in emergency funding to help local governments address homelessness. To receive Homeless Emergency Aid Program funding, jurisdictions must declare an emergency shelter crisis and local Continuums of Care must demonstrate strong coordination between cities and counties. The HCFC anticipates that the NOFA will be released by the end of September 2018, with funds distributed on a rolling basis until January 31, 2019, one month following the close of the application period. In addition, the HCFC anticipates that Round 2 funding will open in April 2019.

    The HCFC also reviewed and adopted assessments that covered the extent to which the California Tax Allocation Committee (TCAC) and California Housing Financing Agency (CalHFA) programs employ a Housing First approach. The assessment found that the TCAC Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program currently does not set tenant eligibility or programmatic requirements other than those based on income and recommended that it amend its regulations to require projects that serve homeless households to use the Housing First model. The CalHFA assessment of its Special Needs Housing/Mental Health Services Act program resulted in similar findings, as well as recommendations to update its term sheets. Both agencies used the Housing First Checklist adopted by the HCFC at its April 2018 meeting. The HCFC will receive assessments from the state Department of Health Care Services and Department of Veterans Affairs at its October 2018 meeting.

    Finally, the HCFC received reports on three additional priorities related to the implementation of Housing First guidelines and regulations:

    1. Statewide homeless data integration project. This project would help state leaders better understand how to target funding to communities, populations, and interventions to achieve the greatest impact. The recommendations, which are based in part on a review of HMIS solutions implemented statewide, include acquiring an off-the-shelf solution, leveraging the HUD HMIS data structure, analyzing statewide HMIS security standards, creating participation incentives, and providing options for direct data entry for small Continuums of Care (CoC) with fewer resources, among others. The HCFC also received a presentation from Santa Clara County Consortium about the benefits of using an integrated data system to inform policy and program decisions.
    2. Homeless housing and interventions needs assessment. The HCFC discussed a phased approach to a needs assessment designed to help stakeholders quantify the level of need and resources required to functionally end homelessness. The assessment would incorporate statewide data and research, data from CoCs with the largest homeless populations, and snapshots of two to six other CoCs representing the geographic and population diversity of the state.
    3. Catalog of state-administered homeless programs. The catalog (Appendix D of the HCFC staff report) provides information on programs providing housing and housing-based services, including the funding agency, eligible uses of funding, applicant eligibility, available funding, and upcoming funding cycles.
  2. LA Motel Conversion Ordinance to Increase Housing Production

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    On April 17, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a local ordinance that will enable owners of underutilized hotels and motels to convert these facilities into transitional or supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless. The Los Angeles City Council had previously voted 13-0-2 in favor of the ordinance. The ordinance supports efforts outlined in the City of Los Angeles Comprehensive Homeless Strategy Report to promote the adaptive reuse of private properties that could accelerate the cost-effective development of transitional and supportive housing to provide shelter and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness. Key components of the ordinance include:

    a. All units must be used for transitional and/or supportive housing, but the project will not increase the floor area, building footprint or height, or number of units.

    b.  Projects will maintain a minimum 20:1 ratio of dwelling units to on-site supportive services offices, but supportive services cannot exceed 10% of the total floor area. Projects with fewer than 20 units are required to have at least one office.

    c. Projects that have a Certificate of Occupancy will not be subject to additional zoning ordinances, and interior alterations, such as adding in-unit cooking facilities, can be made.

    d. All project will be reviewed by the Department of Building and Safety to ensure that they meet application requirements, zoning compliance, and performance standards. These standards require the applicant to have an executed contract with a local agency to provide housing onsite with links to services either onsite or offsite.

    e. The project cannot reduce the number of onsite parking spaces, and must adhere to requirements related to security night lighting, recycling, and trash facilities.

    f. When no longer needed for transitional or supportive housing, the facility may be returned to its original use and any space repurposed for supportive services can be converted back to guest rooms or dwelling units provided it does not result in the facility exceeding its Certificate of Occupancy.

    g. Projects cannot result in the alteration of buildings listed or nominated as historic buildings without appropriate consultation with the Office of Historic Resources.

    Jessica Ripper, Senior Associate, covers issues at the intersection of housing, health, and human services, and also manages marketing and business development. Jessica can be reached at jessica@lesardevelopment.com.

     

  3. The Future of Costa-Hawkins Repeal

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    For Rent SignThose of us deeply committed to a healthy housing market for all understand all too well how a constrained housing supply has resulted in increased rent burdens on the majority of tenants in California. Here at LDC, we are engaged in working on a variety of strategies to address both the housing crisis and address displacement of California’s low and moderate-income renters.

    Along with many housing advocate colleagues in the state, we have been following the recent proposals and discussion of one of the most controversial housing market interventions that exists – rent control.

    On January 11, efforts in the California legislature to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act failed to move forward when the California Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee voted on AB 1506 (Bloom), resulting in a 3-3 tie with one abstention. The bill would have allowed local governments to strengthen rent control ordinances.

    Enacted in 1995, Costa-Hawkins, prohibits cities and counties from strengthening existing rent control ordinances, and prohibits the application of rent control ordinances to duplexes, single family homes, and housing of any type built after 1995.

    Despite the failure of AB 1506 at the Assembly committee level, Costa-Hawkins could still be repealed if California voters pass a November 2018 ballot measure proposed by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and championed by nonprofit community organizing groups and tenant right’s advocates. If Costa-Hawkins is repealed, cities and counties would be allowed to draft rent control ordinances free from the restraints of the 1995 law.

    If your community is interested in strategies to mitigate displacement and rising rent pressures, please reach out to us at jennifer@lesardevelopment.com or artemis@lesardevelopment.com.

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

  4. Countdown to the 2017 California Economic Summit

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    CES logoAs leaders, we are called to promote public actions and private choices, which create the social, economic, and environmental conditions that contribute to a vibrant, just, and sustainable future – a prosperity shared among us and with future generations. To achieve this vision, we must work together to address challenges such as poverty and income inequality, technological disruptions, and climate change by engaging in civil discourse, identifying solutions, and building the public will to engage in collective action. What can you do lead the way toward greater prosperity for all Californians?

    Attend the 2017 California Economic Summit. Join state and local leaders as we come together to advance solutions for housing, workforce, and water sustainability, and seek to articulate a compelling vision and clear strategy for improving incomes, economic security, and upward mobility.

    Since 2012, California Forward and partners in the California Economic Summit have articulated and advanced an evolving public agenda for shared prosperity. We now seek to accelerate that progress with an even stronger commitment to more explicit goals, and an affirmation of the Summit as a venue for respectful and candid engagement among those of different minds.

    If you’re already registered, take five minutes to encourage your colleagues, partners, and other local leaders to attend. And if you’re not yet registered, do it now using the code LESAR17.

    You can also learn more about the program and logistics on the California Economic Summit website.

    Lead the Way!  If your organization has an inspiring story to share with Summit attendees, submit a request to host a Lightning Talk.

    Join the Conversation.  Contribute your ideas in a guest blog to the Elevate CA web series.

  5. State Lawmakers Take Action on Homelessness

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    Tents set up by people who are homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles

    Tents set up by people who are homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles

    Affordable housing advocates weren’t the only winners last week as California lawmakers worked to push through a flurry of bills before the end of the legislative session on September 15th. In addition to creating a permanent source of revenue to fund affordable housing, SB 2 (Atkins) provides funding for programs for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. In 2018, half the funds will be made available to the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide funding for programs for people experiencing  or at risk of homelessness. The legislation specifies that use of the funds includes, but is not limited to, providing rapid rehousing, rental assistance, and navigation centers, as well as the construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of permanent and transitional rental housing.

    Several other bills aimed specifically at addressing homelessness also passed during the 2017 legislative session:

    AB 727 (Nazarian) authorizes counties to expand access to housing assistance for people in programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act. The use of MHSA funds for rental subsidies was previously restricted to individuals participating in Full Service Partnerships who require intensive services to stabilize and to individuals who were referred to services from the field. This bill will allow counties to continue to support individuals as they transition to lower levels of service along the continuum of care.

    AB 74 (Chiu) establishes the Housing for a Healthy California Program, which aims to create supportive housing for homeless SSI recipients by leveraging Medi-Cal benefits. The program would be funded through the federal Housing Trust Fund or other sources available to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and would be released through competitive grants to counties and operating reserve grants and capital loans to developers. Numerous studies have demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of coupling stable housing with physical and mental health services for high utilizers of public services.

    AB 932 (Ting) establishes a pilot program allowing specific cities and counties to develop a plan and local ordinances to expedite the construction of emergency shelters on land owned or leased by the city upon declaration of a shelter crisis. HCD would be required to approve local ordinances adopted during the pilot program to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. Eligible localities that declare a shelter crisis are required to submit an annual progress report to the Legislature indicating the total number of residents in shelters, the number who have moved from a shelter into permanent supportive housing, and the number who have exited the system, as well as other data on steps the locality is taking to reduce homelessness.

    AB 210 (Santiago) allows counties to develop multidisciplinary teams to expedite the process of linking homeless adults and families to housing and supportive services by allowing provider agencies to share information and coordinate care. Allowing for a coordinated interagency response will not only improve government efficiency, individuals and families will benefit from greater continuity of care.

    LDC will continue to follow the news from the 2017 legislative session and provide you with updates on how these and future measures, if enacted, are implemented in cities and counties statewide.

    If you are interested in learning more about how to maximize the opportunities created by the legislation, please contact Jessica Ripper, Senior Associate, at jessica@lesardevelopment.com for a briefing or trainings for your team.

  6. Legislators’ Push for Affordable Housing Package Dominates News Cycle

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    Efforts to address California’s housing shortage took center stage in Sacramento last week as Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders struck a deal on three key measures—Senate Bills 2, 3, and 35. The measures have been the subject of intense debate as leaders statewide seek to stimulate development and improve housing affordability.

    Senate Bill 3, authored by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) was amended August 28th to increase the bond to $4 billion and renamed. The amended bill would authorize $3 billion in bonds for the construction of new low-income housing, and add $1 billion to extend the Cal-Vet Farm and Home Loan Program, which provides homeownership subsidies to veterans. The Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB2), authored by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), was also amended to provide for more local government control of the funds generated from real estate document fees. The third measure, Senate Bill 35 authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would streamline local planning reviews for new construction. Both SB2 and SB3 require a two-thirds approval by the Legislature.

    The news and opinion pieces highlighted below offer a robust picture of the debate taking place statewide:

    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.

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

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

  9. Register Now for the 2017 California Economic Summit

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    CES logoRegister for the 2017 California Economic Summit taking place in San Diego on November 2-3, and save $100 on registration through August 31 using LeSar Development Consultants’ special code: LESAR17.

    Join the state’s largest existing coalition of public- and private-sector leaders, coming together for the sixth annual Summit to advance three ambitious goals:

    • Create a unifying triple-bottom-line vision for increasing economic security and upward mobility
    • Expand the strength and diversity of the Summit network to increase its influence on state and local policy decisions
    • Mature the Summit as a formal civic partner with government to advance triple-bottom-line policies

    The Summit highlights progress on The 2017 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, which offers detailed action plans to improve the workforce pipeline, increase the supply of housing near jobs and transit, and expand regional water management of the state’s vital water supplies.

    register_now

    Jennifer LeSar, CEO of LeSar Development Consultants and Chair of the Summit Host Committee, was among the local leaders who collaborated to bring the Summit to the San Diego region.

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

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    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.