Comstock’s Magazine Spotlights Placer County Housing Efforts

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Comstock’s Magazine writer Laurie Lauletta-Boshart spent several months researching and articulating a topic that is on the pages of every publication these days: housing. The housing crisis is not unique to our region or state, it doesn’t exist in just cities or only in rural areas. What is unique to our region is the complexity of working across jurisdictions, counties, and incorporated vs. unincorporated communities.

“Placer County Amps Up Housing Efforts” was published in November 2018. The piece impressively captures the subtle nuances of addressing and developing housing solutions for a county as diverse and geographically expansive as Placer. Through interviews and follow up questions with those leading the charge together, Lauletta-Boshart paints a picture of the collaboration necessary to solve such a profound and systemic issue.

Stacy Caldwell, CEO of Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, the facilitating organization of the Mountain Housing Council, spoke with Lauletta-Boshart several times. While many people are familiar with the work of the Mountain Housing Council’s 29 stakeholders and the collaborative work done to serve specifically North Tahoe-Truckee, fewer people may be aware of the cross-regional work occurring behind the scenes. For example, Caldwell and Victoria Blake, Placer Community Foundation CEO, have been in frequent communication via phone and in person.

“Placer Community Foundation CEO and Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation have both designed the best approach and program to coordinate our communities to mobilize around solutions. We are in constant conversation around our strategies, seek opportunities to advocate at the state level and both of our organizations participate in the Housing Committee of the League of California Community Foundations,” said Caldwell.

Read the entire article here.

Housing Help Available to Local Residents

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By Heidi Volkhardt Allstead

On October 30, Nevada County and USDA Rural Development teamed up to host a workshop in Grass Valley to discuss financial program opportunities available to Truckee and North Tahoe residents. The workshop introduced attendees to opportunities like single family housing direct home loans, guaranteed loans, and housing repair loans as well as grants for very-low to moderate income homebuyers and homeowners living in rural communities. This is good news for people living in Truckee, Kings Beach, or Tahoe City who meet the eligibility requirements. The workshop discussed the following loan programs:

Single Family Housing Direct Loans – This program offers affordable mortgage loans to low- and very-low-income homebuyers in eligible rural areas, generally with a population less than 35,000. There are no down payment or mortgage insurance requirements, and the maximum loan for Nevada County is $381,800. Loans are all fixed rate and can be used to purchase, build, repair or renovate an eligible home. For more information click here.

Single Family Home Loan Guarantees – This program is very similar to the direct loan program, but mortgage loans are provided by one of USDA’s approved lenders (a list is available at http://www.rd.usda.gov/ca). Guaranteed mortgage loans are available to low- and moderate-income homebuyers in eligible rural areas, generally with a population less than 35,000. There are no down payment or mortgage insurance requirements, and there is no maximum loan amount for the county. Loans are all fixed rate and can be used to purchase, build, repair or renovate an eligible home. For more information about the program click here.

Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants – This program helps very-low-income homeowners repair, improve, or modernize their home. Funding is available to homeowners in eligible rural areas, generally with a population less than 35,000. The maximum loan is $20,000 and has a fixed rate of one percent. Grants up to $7,500 are available only to homeowners age 62 or older who cannot afford a loan and need to remove health and safety hazards. For more information about this program click here.

~ Heidi Volkhardt Allstead is the program director for The Martis Fund. Learn more at martisfund.org

California Voters Approve Housing Propositions

Approximately $6 billion will flow into affordable housing efforts across California after voters approved two housing propositions on November 6.

Proposition 1 and 2 could result in tens of thousands of new homes being built across the state and help alleviate California’s deepening housing crisis. The California Secretary of State estimated that Proposition 1 alone would help fund 30,000 multi-family housing units and 7,500 homes for farm workers.

The funding will also be used for loan assistance, housing projects near transit, and support for veterans and people with mental illness.

Proposition 1 passed with approximately 54 percent of the vote. Proposition 2 passed with approximately 61 percent approval.

The statewide support for housing initiatives shows how housing has become a key issue for voters.

“There is a strong political constituency for the work we do,” wrote Rob Wiener, executive director for the California Coalition for Rural Housing in an email to supporters.

 

Sacramento Will Waive City Fees for Affordable Housing Projects

The Sacramento City Council took a decisive step toward encouraging and supporting more affordable housing by waiving the city’s development fees for affordable housing projects.

The Oct. 30 vote to waive the fees was a direct response to the housing crisis affecting the Sacramento area and the elimination of redevelopment agencies that had previously supported the development of affordable housing within the city.

“Funding for affordable housing has fallen dramatically since the dissolution of the state’s redevelopment agencies in 2012, and as a result, affordable housing production has dropped precipitously,” the Sacramento City Council report said.

To qualify for the fee waiver, projects must be multi-family structures restricted as affordable to residents making less than the city’s median income. The fee waiver will not increase the fees on market-rate housing projects, but will decrease revenue to the city by approximately $1 million per year.

Development fees have come into focus as one way that municipalities can attract private investors to develop new housing for residents who are unable to afford market-rate housing, which can often be out of reach for median and below median income earners. In fact, Tahoe-Truckee, market-rate housing is out of reach for those earning up to 195% of the median income (learn more here). Fees are important in an environment where construction and land costs are sky-rocketing, because they can be a deciding factor in a housing project with thin margins and a tight budget. Municipalities are examining options like fee waivers, fee deferrals, or scalable fees that are based on the size of units, number of bedrooms, or number of fixtures.

The Sacramento City Council report noted that under the fee waiver program, a 200-unit affordable housing project would save between $1.8 million and $2.7 million on fees, depending on which part of the city it was located in.

The Mountain Housing Council has finalized its own set of recommendations on development fees in Truckee-North Tahoe, suggesting ways that local government agencies can spur more achievable local housing investment by revising their development fee structure.

Learn more about Mountain Housing Council’s efforts here.