SACRAMENTO, CA (STL.News) Governor Gavin Newsom announced more than $923 million in awards for affordable housing projects across California as part of the California Housing Accelerator, a $1.75 billion investment to provide bridge funding to shovel-ready projects that were otherwise unable to begin construction because of a shortage of federal tax credits and bonds.
“We’re building more housing for people at risk of homelessness to prevent folks from ending up on the streets, and we’re doing it faster than ever before,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re getting shovels in the ground in a matter of months, creating thousands of new affordable homes for people at the economic margins who need these new units the most.”
In total, 27 statewide projects have been approved to date, with nearly all of the projects expected to break ground this summer. When fully completed, the projects will create 2,300 housing units, 500 of which are for those experiencing homelessness. The Housing Accelerator prioritizes projects for those experiencing homelessness and for those below 30 percent of the Area Median Income. A full list of awardees can be found here.
Governor Newsom’s comprehensive strategy to address the homelessness and housing affordability crisis includes historic multi-year investments and new laws and accountability measures. Last year’s California Comeback Plan invested an unprecedented $22 billion to tackle these systemic issues, with $10.3 billion to build more affordable housing and $12 billion allocated for homelessness and behavioral health services. The Governor’s California Blueprint builds on these bold investments with a proposed $2 billion to advance behavioral health housing and encampment rehousing strategies as well as $2 billion to boost housing production and preserve affordable housing across the state. The Administration continues to implement reforms targeting existing roadblocks to affordable housing production while addressing the interrelated problems of climate change and housing affordability by promoting denser housing closer to people’s daily destinations.
“The pandemic underscored the urgent need to expand housing, particularly for communities that are most economically vulnerable,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “The California Housing Accelerator fast tracks stalled housing projects, making these units more quickly available to low-income individuals and families across the state. This initiative is a critical part of the state’s multi-program housing strategy and will enable us to construct quality affordable housing for thousands of households.”
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) oversees the Housing Accelerator program with funding derived from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, established by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. In September, state officials announced utilizing these resources to create the California Housing Accelerator in order to move housing developments that were stuck through the funding pipeline.
“When we launched the California Housing Accelerator, we had clear objectives – eliminate the backlog of projects standing in long lines for tax credits and bonds, bring affordable housing to communities in need, and reduce the amount of time and money involved in preparing to make these homes available,” said Director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development Gustavo Velasquez. “And while more work remains, today’s announcement is an important step toward achieving our affordable housing goals.”
In addition to today’s awards announcement, HCD is finalizing the project solicitation and guidelines for the next round of the California Housing Accelerator, which will be released in mid-February.
“The California Housing Accelerator will help reduce one of the biggest bottlenecks preventing California from building more affordable housing – providing much-needed funding for dozens of shovel-ready projects stalled in the state’s oversubscribed housing financing system,” said Executive Director of the California Housing Consortium Ray Pearl. “This new program is going to allow communities all over the state to move quickly, starting now, to build safe, affordable homes for their lowest-income households. It will mean more affordable housing for those who need it most, and affordable housing providers are committed to working with state leaders to support these vital investments for years to come.”
The next round of the California Housing Accelerator will be a competitive process for previously HCD-awarded 4 percent tax credit projects and the program will include regional allocations to ensure a broad geographic distribution of Accelerator funds. Projects will be rated based on four primary policy objectives: efficient use of Accelerator funds; age of HCD award; targeting of special needs populations; and climate change mitigation based on proximity to transit. Additionally, applications received will be evaluated for threshold criteria, such as ensuring projects proceed to construction within 180 days of awarded funds. For the next phase of projects, an additional $735 million is available.