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Newsroom

  • MyNews LA: New homes cost more in LA with fees to help the homeless?

    la city councilWill Los Angeles force developers to pay extra for new structures to raise millions to help the homeless?  That’s what the City Council will decide this week when members vote on a “linkage fee” that would require just such a payment. An affordable housing linkage fee has been one of the most hotly debated and controversial proposals to come through Los Angeles City Hall in recent times, and is now set to be voted on by the City Council in its last session of the year. The agenda for the Wednesday meeting of the City Council — the body’s last of 2017 before going on an extended holiday recess — includes a vote on the linkage free, which Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti first proposed two years ago and called on the City Council to pass during his State of the City speech in April. Commercial and residential developers would have to pay a fee for every square foot of new construction, with the money used to provide housing for the homeless.

     

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  • SacBee: GOP tax bill would kill a California tool to build housing

    Ali Youssefi, 34, and his father, Cyrus Youssefi, of CFY Development Inc. stand at their Warehouse Artist Lofts project. Youssefi is the lead developer on the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street.While California’s housing crisis has been well documented, what isn’t as widely understood are the financing tools we use to build affordable housing. One indispensable tool, Private Activity Bonds, is in danger of being eliminated in the federal tax reform. This would be devastating for the millions of low- and moderate-income Californians struggling to afford housing.  After years of hard work by housing advocates and lawmakers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of housing bills in September. Like the homes it would help create, the package was built on a foundation of partnerships with the federal government. Private Activity Bonds are used in public-private partnerships and are required for developers to obtain low-income housing tax credits. These bonds and tax credits are the building blocks of affordable housing. Ending access to the tax credits would result in the loss of $2.2 billion of financing in our state each year.

     

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  • NPR: Homeless Population Rises, Driven By West Coast Affordable-Housing Crisis

    Homelessness in the United States went up slightly this year for the first time since 2010. During a one-night count in January, 553,742 people were found living outside or in shelters across the country, a 0.7 percent increase from the year before, according to new data released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday. The increase is almost entirely due to a surge in homelessness in Los Angeles and other cities facing severe shortages of affordable housing, say HUD officials. Many of the cities are on the West Coast, including Seattle, San Diego and Sacramento, Calif. Overall, the nation’s homeless numbers are 13 percent lower than they were in 2010 and some communities have all but eliminated homelessness among veterans, emphasized HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

     

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  • New York Times: California Today: Neighborhoods That Grow Up, Not Out

    If California is going to solve its affordable housing problem, cities have to build up in single-family home neighborhoods. That was the conclusion of the economists I interviewed for my recent story on Berkeley. The story raises a big, difficult question that sits at the heart of California’s efforts to simultaneously combat poverty and climate change: Is it possible to build a dense city that is also affordable? California has a growing economy and the nation’s most expensive housing market. Worried about escalating rents and home prices, many people have pointed to the economy, in particular the technology industry, as a scapegoat.

     

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  • Affordable Housing Finance: LIHTCs Can Aid Recovery Efforts

    It’s been a rough year. In just the past few months, we witnessed a series of hurricanes blow apart Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the Southeast. We then had devastating fires sweep through California, destroying thousands and thousands of homes. In Santa Rosa alone, roughly 6,700 homes and businesses were lost in the flames, an estimated 5% of the city’s entire housing stock. It’s a staggering loss for the individual families that have been affected as well as the larger community, an already tight housing market. It’s hard to find any kind of silver linings in these catastrophes, but if there is one, it’s that we have the tools needed to recover. Twelve years ago, lawmakers leveraged the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program to rebuild needed affordable housing in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other areas after they were struck by Hurricane Katrina and other storms. Congress increased the amount of LIHTCs available in these regions to spur billions of dollars in investment so housing could be rebuilt.

     

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  • Salon: An affordable housing movement is rising from the wreckage of the foreclosure crisis

    In late September, activists staged actions in 45 cities to draw attention to predatory rent practices and vast cuts to Housing and Urban Development funding. “Renters Week of Action” was partially inspired by a report put out by the Right to the City Alliance (RTC) highlighting solutions to the problems tenants now face after the foreclosure crisis. “The majority of all renters pay an unaffordable rent,” Darnell Johnson of RTC told In These Times. “Eviction, rising rents and gentrification are racial, gender and economic violence harming our people.” The coordinated actions stem from a long history. The rent control movement gained momentum during the late 1970s and early 1980s, spreading beyond New York City and taking hold in California. In 1978, California voters approved Proposition 13, which lowered property taxes throughout the state.

     

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  • Mission Local: SF Mission YIMBY movement wants to speed up affordable housing

    Steven Buss is a self-described “gentrifier,” and he’s on a mission to soothe his conscience. “Look, I am a gentrifier. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. I’m white, I’m relatively wealthy, I work in tech,” he said. “I know my presence in the neighborhood exacerbates gentrification, which is also why I want to help mitigate it.” Buss is the founder of Mission YIMBY, a nascent offshoot of the fast-growing YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement that argues that San Francisco’s displacement problem is fueled by a lack of housing — market-rate housing, affordable housing, all of it. So, just build more housing, they say. Buss and Mission YIMBY, on the other hand, call for something slightly different: more affordable housing in the Mission, and much more market-rate housing everywhere else. He sees opportunity for market-rate housing in neighborhoods like Noe Valley that, Buss asserts, have historically limited higher-density developments by zoning its land for single-family homes. “The Mission is already doing its part — it’s doing more than its part — but what I really care about is forcing the other neighborhoods to build more,” he said, sipping a beer at El Rio last week, where he and some 15 other like-minded YIMBYs, most from the tech industry, were holding a Friendsgiving.

     

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  • San Francisco Chronicle: GOP tax bill would demolish California’s affordable-housing efforts

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) is joined by fellow Republican senators as he speaks with reporters at the Capitol about plans to vote on tax-overhaul legislation this week. Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty ImagesWith Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday behind us, Americans’ pocketbooks are likely suffering from all the recent activity. And although tax season feels like a figment of the distant future, Californians likely will have less disposable income to spend for coming holiday seasons if the Republican tax bill passes. If you don’t have more money than you know what to do with, this plan asks you to pay more so that millionaires and billionaires can pay less. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush cut taxes for the wealthy to stimulate the economy. Although these policies may have helped to end two recessions, they also laid the foundation for the extreme economic inequality, which has been growing ever since. Rather than propose policies to close the wealth gap, the federal tax legislation uses the same Reaganomics logic, even after the International Monetary Fund(along with many well-respected economists) found that when top earners make more, it slows economic growth.

     

     

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  • Mercury News: Affordable and teacher housing would be permanently fast-tracked under San Francisco ballot initiative

    The notoriously long process to build teacher housing and other subsidized homes could get shortened in San Francisco under a new ballot initiative launched this week. The local initiative would make the approval of such projects an “over the counter” process not subject to public hearings or environmental lawsuits, further simplifying what it takes to get the green light. Projects that meet the city’s zoning rules would simply be approved.Proponents say they hope the change will speed affordable housing development in a city where the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $4,000.\“It is addressing the needs of the people in the city who do the day-to-day work that makes the city go,” said Todd David, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, a co-sponsor of the initiative along with the pro-development group YIMBY Action. “We have not built middle-income housing in San Francisco in the last 30 years.”

  • National Review: Study: Land-Use Restrictions Drag the US Economy Down

    Something seems wrong with the American economy, despite strong headline numbers. Nine years into the expansion, GDP and productivity growth remain below their long-term trends. According to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, restrictive land-use regulations in California and New York are a major reason why. The paper, by Kyle F. Herkenhoff, Lee E. Ohanian, and Edward C. Prescott, argues that “these restrictions have depressed macroeconomic activity since 2000.” The basic idea is that land-use regulations artificially constrain the supply of land, driving up prices for housing and commercial rent — and that these regulations are the most restrictive in places where productive opportunities are plentiful. Take the Golden and Empire States, where, compared with the rest of the country, jobs abound and productivity is high.

     

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