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  • Mercury News: Affordable housing in California takes hit under GOP tax plan

    This affordable housing development built by Mercy Housing at 1180 4th St.,
San Francisco, couldn't have been completed without the bonds and tax
credits the GOP tax plan threatens to eliminate. (Marisa Kendall/ Bay Area
News Group)The new Republican tax overhaul will likely chop plans for thousands of new affordable homes in California and further squeeze low-income renters, but experts say the impact could have been more severe. The tax law, signed by President Donald Trump last week, preserved two threatened federal programs that are key to building tens of thousands of affordable homes in California — low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt private activity bonds. But experts estimate the new tax rules could still reduce federal funding for subsidized housing in the state by 20 percent, translating to roughly $500 million a year of projects and 4,000 new units lost. “The worst possible hits were taken out of the bill,” said Carolina Reid, assistant professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley. But, she added, “It does nothing to actually promote affordable housing.”

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  • Patch: Marin Officials Approve Affordable Housing Proposal

    Marin Officials Approve Affordable Housing ProposalMarin County officials are encouraging renting rooms in existing residence to help provide affordable housing. The Board of Supervisors voted recently to waive building and planning fees up to $1,500 in 2018 for the creation of the “Junior Accessory Dwelling Units.” The units typically contain a wet bar and other small food preparation facilities. Property owners who benefit from the reduced fees capped at $1,500 would be prohibited for one year from renting the junior unit for 30 days or less. California legislation that eases regulations on the creation of Junior Accessory Dwelling Units went into effect in January 2017. Marin County’s Development Code was amended to allow a property owner to have one Accessory Dwelling Unit and one Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit on the same property. The ADUs are allowed to have a complete kitchen as opposed to a small food preparation facility allowed by the Junior Accessory Dwelling Units.

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  • PPIC: High Housing Costs Hurt College Affordability

    Young woman lying on bed using laptop computer, in student dormitoryA majority of Californians say affordability is a problem in the state’s public colleges and universities, according to the PPIC Statewide Survey. In addition, three-quarters of residents in the survey agree that the price of college prevents students who are qualified and motivated from going to college. Not surprisingly, state leaders are exploring new strategies to help students and families better cope with college costs. Most current approaches, such as state and institutional financial aid, focus primarily on tuition relief. This makes sense, as tuition more than doubled at California universities from 2006 to 2012—and is on the rise again. However, housing costs also play a significant role in the total cost of attending college. Californians are well aware of the issue: 85% of residents in the PPIC survey say colleges and universities should do more to make sure that all students have affordable housing options.

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  • DS News: Fannie Offers $10M for Affordable Housing Solutions

    House on Money BHFannie Mae is offering $10 million for solutions to the country’s affordable housing issues.  The government-sponsored enterprise issued its Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge earlier this week. As part of the Challenge, Fannie Mae is requesting proposals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors for “promising ideas that will help it address the nation’s affordable housing issues,” the GSE reported. According to Jeffery Hayward, EVP and Head of Multifamily at Fannie Mae, the Challenge is part of the GSE’s overall mission to serve the American consumer. “The Challenge is a responsible way for Fannie Mae to uncover and explore innovative solutions to help address the affordable housing crisis in America,” Hayward said. “It supports our broad mission to increase housing opportunities across the country that are safe, sustainable, and affordable. We are excited to collaborate with new partners to source innovative ideas from other sectors.”

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  • Affordable Housing Finance: Republicans Pass Sweeping Tax Reform

    The first tax system overhaul in over three decades is expected to head to President Donald Trump’s desk today. Senate Republicans passed the much-anticipated tax measure early Wednesday morning on party lines, 51-48. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday afternoon on party lines, with 227 Republicans voting for it and 12 Republicans and all Democrats opposing it. The House also had to revote on Wednesday morning after the Senate parliamentarian ruled several provisions out of order, with the same votes as the day before. After a roller-coaster ride for the affordable housing industry this fall, leaders breathed a sigh of relief Friday when the tax reform bill was released after conference committee negotiations. Both low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) and private-activity bonds (PABs) have been preserved in the bill. “While we didn’t get everything we wanted, and whoever does, we’re whole,” says David Gasson, executive director of the Housing Advisory Group and vice president at Boston Capital.

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  • Daily Democrat: California housing crisis drives people to live in their RVs

    RV resident Robert Ramirez, 54, shows his sleeping space inside his RV on Dec. 5, 2017. Ramirez supports himself by collecting recyclable materials and also gets government assistance. He wishes he could park his trailer in a RV park for more stability in his life but he can’t afford it. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)Robert Ramirez lives in an old RV, parked curbside in an industrial section of town. He knows one day soon he’ll get that knock on his door. Bay Area police will politely ask him to relocate. Neither party will be happy, Ramirez said, but he’ll agree to move along. It’s happened before, and he expects it will happen again — no matter how hard he tries to be a good neighbor and keep his vehicle and sidewalk clean. The 54-year-old lives on public assistance and collecting recyclables. “I have to do whatever I have to do,” he said. A number of cities are coming to realize what Ramirez already knows — parking tickets won’t solve the problem of finding a place to live. Across California, officials are struggling to cope with a growing influx of RV dwellers seeking a safe, permanent place for the only homes they can afford.

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  • Mercury: New, $1 billion program will bring rooftop solar to California renters

    Over the next decade, roughly 150,000 low-income renters in California will see their apartment buildings outfitted with solar panels — and their electricity bills drop. Regulations approved this week cleared the way for the state to spend $1 billion over 10 years — using proceeds from the state’s landmark climate-change program — on incentives for landlords to install rooftop solar panels on apartment buildings housing low-income residents. “There’s been a lot of discussion about why we can’t get rooftop solar in the communities that need it most,” said Shana Lazero, legal director for the Richmond-based Communities for a Better Environment, which was part of a coalition that co-sponsored the solar legislation. “One of the hardest nuts to crack is the rental market. It’s a huge step to solving one of the biggest pieces of the problem.”

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  • News Review: Good-governance gag order: Housing authority, Region Builders at loggerheads over ‘conflict of interest’ rule

    The local agency responsible for bringing more affordable housing to Sacramento is under fire from Region Builders, one of the most powerful developers’ associations around the Capitol. At issue is a policy proposal that housing officials say would keep big-time builders from exerting improper influence on Sacramento’s council members and supervisors. Region Builders calls the proposal an illegal, overly-bureaucratic growth-killer that will make the city’s housing crisis even worse. Elected officials will have to make their own decision on the policy at the start of 2018. Meanwhile, there is a dark cloud on the horizon that housing officials and developers generally agree about: If the U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the Republicans’ tax bill passes, most affordable housing projects in California will be dead in the water anyway.

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  • LA Daily News: LA’s $100 million affordable-housing ‘linkage fee’ could pass City Council

    The 363-unit project at 21221 Oxnard Street in Woodland Hills is one of 529 new apartment buildings completed or under construction in Southern California., The project is owned by the AERC Warner Center and is being developed by Fairfield Development. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)A Los Angeles City Councilman who helped craft a proposed affordable housing linkage fee expressed confidence that the measure would pass when it comes up for a vote today. The fee has been one of the most hotly debated proposals to come through Los Angeles City Hall in recent times, with some council members and key business leaders expressing hesitation while it was dissected at four Planning and Land Use Management Committee meetings. But some of the skeptical council members appear to have moved toward supporting the fee. “We’ve got something that I think should be able to pass on Wednesday and that most council members at least have come around to support, from the sense I get,” Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the Planning Committee, told City News Service.

     

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  • CityLab: Fire Damage to California’s Homes Isn’t as Random as It Seems

    In the midst of the many wildfire emergencies that have faced California this year, it can often seem that the way houses burn, or don’t, is random. The thing is, though, it’s not. Firefighters and researchers alike have a pretty solid understanding of why some houses are more vulnerable to wildfire than others. The real challenge ultimately lies in whether those with the power to act on that knowledge will do so. It is commonly thought that it takes direct flame to spread a fire, but this isn’t always the case. Small embers are instead often the culprits that begin house fires during wildfires. These small bits of burning debris can be lofted long distances by the wind. They can then end up igniting landscaping materials like combustible mulch, or enter homes through vulnerable spots—gutters teeming with debris, unscreened attic vents, open or broken windows, old roofs with missing shingles. Once there, the embers smolder and can ultimately catch a house on fire.

     

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