Category Archive: Studies of Interest

  1. Committing to Innovation

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    Elements of InnovationCollaboration. Innovation. Social impact. These buzzwords have become accepted jargon in the nonprofit, philanthropic, and public sectors, but few organizations using these labels live up to the hype. Two articles in the Summer 2017 Stanford Social Innovation Review provide insight on how successful organizations embrace these buzzwords as core values.

    In “Creating Breakout Innovation,” authors Joanna Levitt Cea and Jess Rimington discuss their research on the link between collaboration and innovation. What they found was that most organizations use co-creation to solve simple problems, and limit co-creation when approaching problems that require systemic change. However, they also found 20 breakout innovators whose commitment to co-creation allowed them to fundamentally change the way they work.

    What is a breakout innovator? Cea and Rimington identified five co-creation practices that separate the breakout innovators from organizations who wave the “innovator” flag without truly departing from mainstream practice. Topping the list was power sharing. Yes, working with diverse stakeholders to define the scope of the problem, create opportunities for authentic leadership, and decentralize information sharing takes time and commitment. Second, these innovators forged strong relationships in which stakeholders developed and committed to a fair process based on “a common set of values, commitments, and expectations.”

    Breakout innovators also valued diversity. They established effective ways to manage diverse perspectives, and adapted processes for multiple learning and participation styles. They also valued a wider range of knowledge, avoiding the common trap of overreliance on “expert bias.” Instead, the innovators encouraged individuals to recognize these biases and created space for informal or experiential knowledge, intuition, or other ways of knowing.

    Last, like all famous innovators, these organizations excelled at rapid prototyping to gain feedback on the ideas team members generated throughout the design process. By adopting these collaborative practices, these organizations not only broke free from the status quo, they changed their mind-set and increased the likelihood of future collaboration.

    “Is Your Nonprofit Built for Sustained Innovation?” also underscored that innovation requires cultivation. The article, which is based on the findings from interviews with 145 nonprofit leaders, also highlighted the importance of preparing people to work in diverse teams and valuing knowledge exchange across a wide range of sources. The findings also show that innovators empower “catalytic leaders” who provide both a focused vision and the freedom to innovate, foster curiosity and critical thinking, and developing metrics and criteria for generating and testing ideas.

    Put simply, creating a culture of innovation requires a deep commitment. And it requires organizations to rethink how they handle the constraints of limited resources, industry competition, and the volatile policy and regulatory environment. The research shows, however, that investing in a culture of innovation increases the likelihood that organizations will create sustainable approaches to fulfilling their mission.

    For more information about organizational development and systems change, contact Jessica Ripper, Senior Associate, at jessica@lesardevelopment.com.

  2. 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.

  3. Unlocking Land for High-Impact Development

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    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. New Study on CA Rail System Casts Spotlight on Transit-Oriented Development

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    Passenger train in downtown San DiegoSince the early 20th century, California has forged its identity as a car-based culture, especially in the southern regions of the state. However, concerns about the impact of climate change, commute times, and the costs associated with owning a vehicle have triggered interest in alternatives to the combustion engine as the prime mover of the California economy. These options include enhancing access to one of the largest rail systems in the nation.

    Rail and the California Economy, a recent report published by the University of California, Berkeley, examines the dynamic role passenger and freight rail play in shaping cities and influencing where jobs are located. California has almost 4,000 miles of track owned by Union Pacific and BNSF, with an additional 800 miles operated by short-line regional railroads. This network circulates through our main metropolitan areas (Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Fresno) and connects coastal communities with those further inland, moving over 38 million passengers to their destinations each year.

    The clustering of people, firms, housing, goods, and services – called “agglomeration” or transit-oriented development – within transportation corridors adds an exciting dimension to housing development. After years of debating the environmentally-friendly concept of “smart growth,” regional planning and transportation agencies now view the underutilized land surrounding transit hubs or stations as fertile sites for increased density and vibrant employment centers.

    One benefit of clustering arises from a public financing tool called “value capture,” which occurs when a transit agency leverages a station’s created value by actively seeking to develop land it owns around that station for housing, retail, and other commercial uses. San Francisco’s new Transbay Terminal is one such project. The Transbay Transit Center Project transforms downtown San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional transportation system by creating a “Grand Central Station of the West,” and has anchored a resurgence of the transit-friendly neighborhood. The approximately $6 billion project replaces the former Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets in San Francisco with a modern regional transit hub connecting eight Bay Area counties and the State of California through 11 transit systems: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, SF Muni, SamTrans, WestCAT, Amtrak, and future high speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim.

    The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, in collaboration with the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, is developing the Transbay project through competitive bid by private developers. Financing consists of a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) direct loan of $171 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The TIFIA loan is secured by a senior lien on project revenues, which include dedicated tax increment revenues from land sold and developed in the state-owned parcels surrounding the transit center (98% of revenues), and a commitment of passenger facilities charges from the transit center’s initial primary tenant, AC Transit (2% of revenues). This is the first TIFIA loan secured by value capture revenues from real estate taxes on surrounding transit-oriented development.

    The study also features Redwood City as an excellent example of how transit-oriented development can generate the benefits of an agglomeration economy. By implementing a comprehensive, high-density development plan anchored by its Caltrain station, Redwood City has experienced explosive growth in the neighborhood surrounding the train station.

    As a target for value capture, the land surrounding urban rail is a primary focus of new development. However, to overcome the constraints of investing in TOD areas without existing markets, financial incentives are typically required. Joint land use and leveraged funding among transit agencies, cities, and foundations are laying the groundwork for a high level of economic stimulus and return on investment in underutilized neighborhoods.

    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.

  5. Cross-border Housing Development

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    Group Picture in TijuanaTijuana is experiencing a resurgence. Long recognized as a bustling border town, Tijuana has recently been grabbing headlines up and down the California coast as an arts hub, a thriving gastro-tourism destination, and a place where San Diegans can find affordable housing. LeSar Development Consultants has been following these trends closely, and last week traveled to Tijuana to meet with local developers and architects to discuss how the city of Tijuana is changing and their vision for its future.

    Estación Federal

    The LDC team first met with Miguel Marshall, CEO of Centro Ventures, just across the border from the San Ysidro port of entry in a neighborhood known as Colonia Empleados Federales. Centro Ventures led the redevelopment of a former gas station called Estación Federal into a live/work space that has become home to regional artists and entrepreneurs. Marshall and a local community leader, Mario Aragón, described how the land was granted to federal employees in the 1940s, when the addition of canals to tame the flooding of the Tijuana River and the presence of a pedestrian bridge border crossing created a boom in both the local economy and the housing industry.

    After the pedestrian crossing was closed down and moved, the neighborhood experienced a downturn that is still visible today in the empty storefronts and abandoned developments. Just over a year ago, a new pedestrian bridge border crossing, known as “El Chaparral” in Mexico and “Virginia Avenue Bridge” in the US, was installed. The new crossing and the redevelopment of Estacion Federal have brought revitalization to the area.

    20170721_102157When Marshall and his investment partners decided to redevelop the property, they immediately looked to make the space an art and culture hub. The concept of redevelopment of mixed use properties is somewhat new in Mexico, so Marshall and his team raised the initial funds for the purchase based on their business plan and then received several rounds of financing for construction before accumulating sufficient credit to obtain a mortgage through a small, regional bank.

    Estación Federal currently has a variety of apartments ranging in price from $500 to $1,000 – many of which are rented by Americans working in the US. It also has six work spaces, and several commercial spaces.

    Escuela Libre de Arqitectura

    Three years ago, Tijuana also became home to a new architecture school, Escuela Libre de Arquitectura, which is rooted in the urbanist philosophy of founder and local architect and planner Jorge Gracia.

    During a tour of the school, Gracia and his colleague, Orhan Ayyüce, talked about the importance of the people and narratives behind architectural development. Their “constellations” program teaches students about how place-making creates community hubs within neighborhoods. Gracia talked about how the narratives of kidnapping and the war on drugs had destroyed the city. As a working architect and planner, he also saw an opportunity to revitalize the city by creating a new generation of architects who understood how history and culture shape the environment.

    ELA Recycling ProjectAt Escuela Libre de Arquitectura, students receive a hard hat on their first day to symbolize the importance of practical architecture and its relationships to urban planning, construction, and daily life. Students not only learn about design theory and trends, they also learn about mixed use development, how to work with clients, and sales. They also take part in three internships throughout their course of study, including both local and international internships that help them to understand the connection between architecture and place.

    Following a tour of the school and Gracia’s studio, one of the students, Sarah, showed the LDC team her latest group project — a burned out building the group is reclaiming as a space for an upcoming architecture conference. The space will showcase reuse and recycling. The students were working with a few volunteers that day to sort the debris from the fire into neat piles that would be used as the raw materials for the redesigned space. As Gracia said, the students are learning how to build a better city.

    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.

  6. Harvard Report Calls for Expanded Range of Housing Options

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    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.

  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. Free Webinar on Using GreenTRIP Connect to Win Cap and Trade Funding for Transit Oriented Developments

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    Through its Toolbox Tuesdays program, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has announced an upcoming webinar on June 6, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on “Using GreenTrip Connect.” GreenTRIP Connect is a free statewide tool that forecasts greenhouse gas and traffic reductions, parking savings and other features on a parcel by parcel basis depending on proposed project specifications. This webinar will demonstrate how GreenTRIP Connect can directly support projects and city policies to maximize competitiveness to the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) portion Cap and Trade program.

    In addition to a demonstration of the program, the webinar will also provide an overview of how GreenTRIP Connect was used to support a proposed redevelopment of the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station into a mixed use, multi-generation transit-oriented village. Finally, there will be a presentation on how parking data will soon be included in the GreenTRIP Parking Database and the basis for a parking model in Connect for Los Angeles. The speaker will discuss how these tools can support extensive efforts on revamping CEQA transportation thresholds for affordable housing and to develop a new Transportation Demand Management (TDM) ordinance. To sign-up for the event, register at: https://scag.wufoo.com/forms/kfkc2t21oqqnd2/

    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. California Housing Partnership Reports on Housing Affordability in Los Angeles and Inland Counties (Fresno and Sacramento)

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    The California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC), with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), recently published three reports targeting Los Angeles County, Fresno and Sacramento as part of a longer series addressing the housing affordability crisis in specific regions throughout California. The reports for Fresno and Sacramento reveal that the housing shortage and affordability crisis is not confined to the state’s largest cities. The key take-aways from these reports are summarized below.

    Los Angeles County Annual Affordable Housing Outcomes Report (April 2017)

    • By investing locally-controlled funding into affordable housing production, preservation, and rental and operating subsidies, as well as promoting policies such as inclusionary zoning and density bonuses, Los Angeles County has helped these housing providers leverage State and federal resources sufficient to create 109,000 affordable homes and to assist more than 107,000 households maintain affordable housing through various forms of rental assistance.
    • However, the need for affordable homes extends well beyond the 47,000 officially homeless in the County. The County needs to add more than 550,000 affordable homes to meet current demand among renter households at or below 50 percent of Area Median Income.
    • The County is at risk of losing nearly 14,000 existing affordable homes through conversion to market-rate housing, increasing the danger of becoming homeless for 92% of those who are Deeply Low Income, 73% of those who are Extremely Low Income and 42% of those who are Very Low Income.
    • The Report describes an innovative tool for evaluating and siting new and preserving existing housing – the Low-Wage Jobs-Housing Fit which calculates the ratio of low-wage jobs to affordable housing in an area.
    • The Report makes several recommendations and references a “subtle but important shift in the County’s focus and resource investments. The two largest proposed new initiatives are the creation of the Shallow Project Based Operating Subsidy and the Preservation of Existing Affordable Housing.”

    Sacramento County Housing Need 2017 (May 2017)

    • Cuts in federal and state funding, including elimination of State Redevelopment, have reduced investment in affordable housing production and preservation in Sacramento County by more than $44 million annually since 2008, a 66% reduction.
    • Median rent in Sacramento County has increased 18% since 2000 while median renter household income decreased 11%, when adjusted for inflation. Renters need to earn 2.5 times the state minimum wage to afford the median asking rent of $1,350 in Sacramento County.
    • Sacramento County’s lowest-income renters spend 56% of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health expenses, and other needs.
    • When housing costs are considered, Sacramento County’s poverty rate rises from 17.9% to 18.5%.
    • Sacramento County needs 62,072 more affordable rental homes to meet the needs of its lowest-income renters.

    Fresno County Renters in Crisis: A Call for Action (May 2017)

    • Cuts in federal and state funding, including elimination of State Redevelopment, have reduced investment in affordable housing production and preservation in Fresno County by more than $23 million annually since 2008, a 58% reduction.
    • Median rent in Fresno County has increased 22% since 2000 while median renter household income decreased 8%, when adjusted for inflation.
    • Renters need to earn nearly twice the state minimum wage to afford the median asking rent of $925 in Fresno County.
    • Fresno County’s lowest-income renters spend 64% of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health expenses, and other needs.
    • Fresno County needs 41,251 more affordable rental homes to meet the needs of its lowest-income renters.

    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. Carol Galante Presentation at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation

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    Photo courtesy of BRIDGE Housing.

    Photo courtesy of BRIDGE Housing.

    On April 14th, I had the opportunity to hear a guest lecture from Carol Galante of the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation (and formerly a HUD deputy with the Obama Administration). The Terner Center is a relatively new center, connected to the Haas School of Business, Goldman School of Public Policy, and College of Environmental Design.

    In addition to describing some of the exciting research projects currently underway at the Terner Center, Galante offered her perspective on state and federal housing policy and identified four key areas of focus that are particularly important for the housing industry, and make up the four focus areas of the Center. These include: 1) Expanding supply and lowering the cost of housing; 2) Expanding access to high quality homes (financial structuring – improving access to credit); 3) Achieving sustainability goals; and 4) Using impact assessment to evaluate existing programs and how to change them so they work better.

    Concerning the current federal landscape for housing policy, Galante noted:

    • The federal election and cabinet team matter. Most work gets done at the subcabinet level, and the Trump Administration is far behind in making second tier appointments.
    • “Winning is easy – governing is harder.” The Administrative Procedures Act dictates that executive orders such as those recently promulgated by President Trump do not change policy overnight. Rather, they direct agencies to go back and review their rules. That process takes years, and there are many forces, both internal and external, that can throw tacks in the road.
    • The budget situation was already dire and is getting worse. That is the biggest threat, especially to projects like Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), and Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.

    The Terner Center’s work on federal policy includes several exciting new projects. These include a survey of residents living in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties to determine if living in LIHTC property affect residents’ housing stability, economic opportunities, or educational opportunities. The survey, interviews and focus groups with residents are important because most of the existing opinion research about affordable housing comes from older public housing projects, which are very different than modern LIHTC buildings.

    The Center is also conducting an evaluation of the Rental Assistance Demo project (RAD), which allows agencies who manage distressed housing stock to restructure financial deals and rehab the properties.

    The Terner Center is also working to untangle the roots of the housing crisis in California. Residential construction costs in California have experienced double digit increases every year for the last four years, making it even more expensive and difficult to expand housing supply. An upcoming report from the Terner Center seeks to identify the drivers of these construction cost increases in California. One factor, Carol noted, is that productivity is lagging in the construction sector, which has been slow to innovate relative to other sectors.

    I’m especially excited about the Terner Center‘s new Housing Development Dashboard, an online tool designed to make the impact of housing policies more transparent and fact-based. The Dashboard predicts how likely it is that a project will get built based on public policy, market and rate of return factors. A map-based feature shows how changes in inclusionary zoning, parking requirements and other policies would facilitate more or less construction of market rate and affordable units on existing vacant, multi-family parcels. The Dashboard is currently available for several Bay Area cities, including Oakland and San Francisco, and the Terner Center is hoping to scale it up for the entire Bay Area and Los Angeles.

    Autumn BernsteinAutumn 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. She may be contacted at: Autumn@elpadvisors.com