The San Francisco Chronicle Highlights the Mountain Housing Council’s Soon-to-be-Released Short-Term Rental White Paper

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The Mountain Housing Council’s analysis of the short-term rental market has not been publicly released yet, but it is already getting attention from major publications.

The San Francisco Chronicle is the latest media organization to delve into the topic of short-term rentals and report on the Mountain Housing Council’s deep-dive research in North Tahoe-Truckee. The article, entitled “Lake Tahoe houses sit vacant while locals struggle to find affordable housing,” was penned by Tahoe-based writer Dave Zook and published Feb. 8.

The story uses data compiled and analyzed by the Mountain Housing Council while looking at the short-term rental issue on both the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe. The data comes from the Mountain Housing Council’s soon-to-be-released “Short-Term Rentals in the North Tahoe-Truckee Region” — an approximately 50-page examination of the issue. The council spent nearly a year compiling, analyzing, and researching the intricacies of the short-term rental market and its effect on the overall housing market in the region.

Several Mountain Housing Council partners are quoted in the article, including Truckee Town Manager Jeff Loux, Truckee Mayor David Tirman and Placer County Deputy CEO Jennifer Merchant. Loux, Tirman and Merchant add thoughtful perspective on what local governments are currently doing about the issue, and how it may be addressed in the future. Mountain Housing Council Project Director Seana Doherty and Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation CEO Stacy Caldwell discuss how the information in the council’s report can be used to guide data-driven decisions.

The Mountain Housing Council’s work gives policymakers, community members, and the media a solid basis of information about the current short-term and long-term rental market in the region, what is currently being done in the area, what other communities are doing and potential ways to move forward.

The Mountain Housing Council expects to release the full report in late February at mountainhousingcouncil.org.

The entire San Francisco Chronicle article can be read here.

California Governor Makes Housing Top Priority, Seeks $1.75 Billion to Spur Housing Production

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Incoming California Governor Gavin Newsom has made solving California’s housing crisis a top priority for his administration, including proposing a record $1.75 billion in the state budget to spur housing production.

Newsom’s housing proposals combine innovative new approaches to the housing crisis as well as tried-and-true housing measures. He has ordered state officials to assess excess state land that could be used for affordable housing projects — a unique new approach to the lack of land for affordable housing projects. Under Newsom’s budget proposal, $500 million would be dedicated to incentives for localities that increase housing production and another $500 million would be offered as tax credits — some targeting the elusive “missing middle” housing that falls between market-rate project and subsidized low-income housing.

Newsom has make housing a cornerstone of his “California for All” agenda. Calling housing the “defining quality-of-life concern” for the state, he called for a bold new focus on solving the issue, and has even proposed withholding state funding from municipalities that do not meet housing production targets.

“The California Dream is in peril if we don’t act to address this housing crisis,” said Governor Newsom at a housing event in San Jose on Jan. 15.

The state’s renewed focus on housing should mean more state funding for housing programs within Truckee-North Tahoe when the new state budget is approved.

 

 

 

Five Key Points in Comstock’s Magazine’s Article on Development Fees

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Comstock’s Magazine recently highlighted the Mountain Housing Council’s work on development fees in an in-depth article entitled Down to the Details published on Jan. 8.

The Sacramento-based magazine examined the Town of Truckee’s new development fee structure, which follows many of the recommendations made by the Mountain Housing Council. But it also looked at how fee policy makes a real difference in achievable housing projects, referencing the Mountain Housing Council’s recent study on development fees.

Here are five key points in the extensive piece by Steven Yoder:

  • The Housing Crisis is Deepening

Truckee-North Tahoe’s housing crisis is increasingly dire. The region needs more than 12,000 more housing units to meet housing needs, and more than half of the region’s residents pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing.

  • Truckee’s Fee Policy is Adapting to Meet the Challenge

The Town of Truckee’s recent decision to offer fee deferrals for workforce housing projects could have a real impact on new workforce housing projects. The Mountain Housing Council estimated that fee deferrals on a 77-unit multifamily housing project could save a developer between $171,000 and $287,000.

  • Sacramento’s Fee Waiver is Having a Direct Impact on Housing Affordability

Sacramento’s elimination of development fees for affordable housing projects will make Habitat for Humanity’s homes up to $12,000 cheaper and allow the non-profit to more than double the number of affordable homes it builds in the Sacramento region.

  • California’s Fees Far Outpace the Rest of the Nation

California’s development impact fees are more than three times the national average and have consistently increased while the rest of the nation’s fee rates have declined.

  • Development Fee Changes Send an Important Signal to Developers

One important role of restructured fees is “signaling” — indicating to developers that you welcome investment in solutions to the housing crisis.

“{Fees are a symbol of sort of ‘do you want us to come?’ and ‘Are you working with us or are you working against us?’ said Seana Doherty, Mountain Housing Council Program Director.

Read the entire Comstock’s Magazine article here.

 

Mountain Housing Council Releases Recommendations on Development Fees

The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee (MHC) has released an in-depth analysis of the fees developers pay when building new housing projects in the North Tahoe-Truckee region. The council has proposed fee restructuring recommendations in order to incentivize more achievable local housing projects in the region.

Lowering Barriers to Private Investment: How Fee Incentives Can Help Achievable Local Housing Projects was published by the council in November 2018. The council is a coalition of 29 regional stakeholders with the mission of accelerating housing solutions in North Tahoe-Truckee. The 15-page document examines the current fee landscape, compares local fees with those of other regions, and proposes that fee deferrals and new fee structures could potentially lower barriers for the development of achievable local housing.

North Tahoe-Truckee has 18 fee-charging agencies that use different methodologies to calculate fees, making for a complex environment for developers.

“Fees can be a make-or-break factor in achievable local housing projects where margins are razor-thin and many of the other costs, like land prices and construction budgets, are fixed,” said Stacy Caldwell, CEO of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, which facilitates the Mountain Housing Council.“We’ve recommended common-sense policies that can preserve agencies’ budgets while also delivering valuable incentives to developers interested in building new achievable local housing.” 

The Mountain Housing Council recommends three main actions: 

• Make Fees Scalable: Scalable fees can be calculated per square foot, bedroom, or fixture rather than flat per-unit fees. This brings down fees for smaller housing units, which are more affordable simply by their design. 

• Offer Fee Deferrals: Deferring fees until after a home or apartment is occupied will reduce developers’ financing costs for projects that meet the definition of achievable local housing (affordable for residents making up to 195% annual median income).Deferrals could save a developer between $171,325 – $287,133 in financing costs on a 77-unit, multi-family housing project. 

• Revise ADU Policy: Complying with state guidelines that make it easier to build ADUs (accessory dwelling units/secondary housing units/“granny flats”) will encourage more homeowners to build ADUs — a promising source of new achievable local housing. 

The MHC has sent the report to all 18 regional fee-charging agencies with a request that they discuss the recommendations at an upcoming board meeting within the next six months. 

The full fee document can be found at: https://mountainhousingcouncil.org/fees/ 

The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee is comprised of 29 committed stakeholders committed to their mission of accelerating achievable local housing solutions. Learn more at mountainhousingcouncil.org

Placer County Moves Forward on Dollar Hill Achievable Housing Project

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – A proposed achievable housing development at Dollar Hill took a step forward with the Placer County Board of Supervisors voting on Dec. 4 to negotiate with Related-Pacific Companies to build the project.

“The approval shows our county’s commitment to moving forward in our mission to address community housing needs,” said Placer County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Holmes. “This project will not only provide future housing opportunities for our residents but reaffirms our goal to help our local businesses hire and retain employees.”

The vote is in line with the recommendation from a review panel including county staff and community members assembled to review project proposals and follows a detailed evaluation and interview process. Related-Pacific is a hybrid team of development companies with experience in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Tahoe Truckee region.

The current project concept includes a mix of residential uses, including single-family homes with the ability to add additional dwellings to the property in order to help offset mortgage costs. Apartment units would also be allowed to ensure the site could serve a broad range of income levels. The project concept also includes stormwater treatment, a community building and a village green that would allow for a children’s playground area, picnic and community gathering area, a dog run, vegetable gardens and a connection to an existing trail system near the project site.

In community meetings about spending priorities for local transient occupancy tax revenues and in Mountain Housing Council workshops, residents have continually expressed their concern over a lack of achievable housing in the region. This feedback led to the Placer County Board of Supervisors approval of a $3.6 million purchase and sale agreement for the Dollar Hill property in August.

In September, Placer County initiated a search for a housing developer through a request for proposals process. Respondents detailed their experience and vision for a development project consistent with community goals and area plans. The county also hosted a community workshop Aug. 1 to receive input on the features residents would like to see included in the proposed project. That feedback was included in the RFP for developers to consider in their proposals.

Dollar Hill offers an ideal site for achievable housing, with easy access to TART bus routes, schools, North Lake Tahoe’s downtown centers of Tahoe City and Kings Beach and the Dollar Creek Trail.

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.

Downpayment Assistance Launched for Local Homebuyers

Downpayments can be a big roadblock for locals looking to purchase a home in Truckee and North Tahoe. Not only do they require gathering precious cash right before making perhaps the biggest investment of a lifetime, but smaller downpayments can kick in mortgage insurance premiums, making already large monthly payments even more unaffordable.

The Martis Fund is partnering with the Sierra Business Council to help some locals overcome that housing hurdle. With $500,000 in funding, the program will dole out up to $50,000 or 10 percent of the home purchase price to qualifying local homebuyers at a three percent interest rate. The loan repayment can be deferred until the re-sale of the home under the program.

The downpayment assistance program is available to workers in Truckee and Eastern Placer County who make up to 180 percent of the median income in the region — roughly $144,180 for a family of four.

Loans will be made on a first-come-first-served basis. For more information on the program contact Gina Jones, Program Administrator, at gkjones@sierrabusiness.org. More information on the program is available here.