Skip to comments.NoCal Funding for Affordable Housing Dries Up
Posted on 06/08/2012 7:54:10 PM PDT by Lorianne
Even as Sonoma County faces tremendous demand for government-subsidized apartments, affordable housing proponents say the money to pay for new projects is drying up.
Housing groups expect to lose $1 billion a year in redevelopment funds as a result of recent cutbacks. Other state and federal funds have been reduced or eliminated.
"The funding has just been decimated," said Matt Schwartz, president and CEO of the California Housing Partnership Corporation in San Francisco.
Schwartz was in Santa Rosa on Monday to speak to an annual breakfast gathering of the Sonoma County Housing Coalition, a consortium of housing groups and advocates.
Cities and counties had their redevelopment agencies dissolved earlier this year in a money-saving move to balance the state budget. While advocates haven't done a study on the impact in Sonoma County, the amount of lost redevelopment funds for local housing probably approaches $15 million a year, said John Lowry, executive director of Burbank Housing, a nonprofit builder in Santa Rosa.
Apartment rents climbed 2 percent in Sonoma County during the first quarter, when the average rent rose to to $1,242 per month, up from $1,218 in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to RealFacts, a Novato company specializing in the apartment market.
The county's apartment vacancy rate declined slightly to 4 percent in the first quarter of the year. Housing advocates say a balanced market would be about 5 percent.
The market is even tighter for low-income housing. The vacancy rate is about 1.5 percent for the nearly 2,700 rental units that Burbank Housing manages, Lowry said. As soon as one tenant leaves a unit, another is ready to move in.
Real estate experts for months have been predicting greater demand and higher rents in the nation's rental market. They note that home ownership in the first quarter fell to 65.4 percent, the lowest level in 15 years. And the nation's housing stock has grown little in the past four years, largely because buyers can acquire existing houses for considerably less money than the cost of new ones.
Still available is a top source of funds for affordable apartments, a federal tax credit for low-income housing. Over the past 20 years, Lowry said, most of the apartments built in Sonoma County by for-profit and nonprofit builders alike has been partly financed by those tax credits.
But Schwartz told Monday's gathering of more than 120 people at the Flamingo Hotel that the tax credit in the next year may be eliminated as Congress looks for ways to reduce the federal deficit. Should the tax credit end, he said, the building of low-income rental housing essentially "would come to a halt."
Around the county, groups for now are still finding ways to build.
Burbank still has one project underway with old sources of funding, a 66-unit project just begun on Petaluma Boulevard North in Petaluma.
The money for the $25.6 million project includes $3.65 million in redevelopment funds, a $4 million federal HOME grant, $6.1 million in state multi-family housing funds, a $900,000 loan and about $11 million in low-income tax credits.
The HOME grant program has been cut in half, advocates said, and the state has run out of multi-family housing funds.
Burbank expects to receive about 600 applications for the 66 units, which will rent for between $400 and $710 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. To qualify, a family of two could make no more than $33,050 a year.
In Santa Rosa, a facility this summer will provide temporary housing for up to 15 military veterans. The facility on West Hearn Avenue was developed by Community Housing Sonoma County and will be operated by Vietnam Veterans of California. Vets will receive a variety of services and be able to stay at the home for up to two years.
"As a community, we have a responsibility to take care of the people who've served us in the military," said Paula Cooke, Community Housing's executive director. "That includes housing and services."
Also opening soon will be a 44-unit senior citizen project on Acacia Lane in Santa Rosa, developed by Petaluma Ecumenical Properties.
A typical senior remains on the group's waiting list for two years before receiving an apartment.
"We just can't build them fast enough," said Rebecca Spencer, the group's fundraising director.
you canput up tents pretty quick or use all the concentration camps built during the bush administration
“LOSS OF LOW FUND HOUSING HITS WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST”
To bad, so sad.
Dear liberal and self-serving reporters...
In the real world, one can't "lose" something one never had.
On the other hand, saying "the gravy train is over," would be totally accurate.
I know where they can get a bunch of FEMA trailers dirt cheap.
Looks like Cabrini Green.
Speaking of Cabrini Green, why don’t rhey just get some Obama cash like his ACORN buddy in Chicago. $445 million could go far there.
If you're a down-on-his-luck sober white male, you're roadkill.