$610 million in funding from California cap-and-trade dollars target projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bolster housing equity $279 million released from the Infill Infrastructure Grant program
SACRAMENTO, CA (STL.News) California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the availability of $610 million in funding to help California communities build more housing and increase transit and active transportation options close to job centers and services – actions that are crucial to both meeting the state’s need for housing for all Californians, and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. This follows the release of $279 million from the Infill Infrastructure Grant program.
“Sky-high housing costs are putting the squeeze on family budgets while long commutes contribute to dirtier air,” said Governor Newsom. “By bringing housing closer to jobs, we can fight climate change and create healthier, sustainable communities across California.”
The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) will award the funds through two programs – Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities and Transformative Climate Communities. Both programs support investments in housing, land use, transportation, clean energy, urban greening, and economic development in California’s most disadvantaged communities. Each is an example of California Climate Investments, an initiative that puts California cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment.
“We are thrilled to release more than $600 million to help California communities tackle long-standing inequities by build more affordable housing and infrastructure and to support programs that provide residents economic opportunities; healthier transportation and recreational opportunities; and cleaner, more affordable energy choices,” said SGC Executive Director, Louise Bedsworth. “These dollars help improve the quality of life for residents of the state’s most disadvantaged communities, and help fight climate change and air pollution in the process.”
On November 1, SGC opened the application period for about $550 million available in Round 5 of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC), implemented in partnership with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). AHSC provides both grants and loans for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through developments that implement land use and housing, and to support infill and compact development. In its first four rounds, AHSC has invested over $1.1 billion statewide. Eighty percent of these investments have been in disadvantaged communities. Investments made in Round 5 will take that total to $1.65 billion. Applications are due February 11, 2020.
Alongside AHSC, the Strategic Growth Council opened Funding Round 3 of the Transformative Climate Communities Program (TCC) on November 4. SGC implements the TCC program in partnership with the California Department of Conservation. Approximately $60 million are available for broad-based greenhouse gas emission reduction projects that provide local economic, environmental, and health benefits to disadvantaged communities. TCC grants fund integrated housing, clean energy, job training, economic development, urban green, and clean transportation projects and programs in small project areas in order to catalyze major positive impacts to California’s most disadvantaged communities. In its first two rounds, Transformative Climate Communities has invested $179 million; Round 3 will take the total to $239 million. TCC applications are due February 28, 2020.
SGC’s release of the TCC and AHSC funding follows the October release by HCD of nearly $280 million in funding through the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program (IIG), which provides financial assistance to support infrastructure improvements that facilitate new infill housing development. IIG aids in new construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure that supports higher-density affordable and mixed-income housing in locations designated as infill.
“This funding will be a huge benefit to local jurisdictions, providing them with powerful new tools for creating climate friendly, sustainable affordable housing that is linked to transportation,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Alexis Podesta. “This, in turn, will give Californians new opportunities to live in homes that give them better access to jobs, schools and other services while helping in the effort to reduce greenhouse gasses.”
These three programs – AHSC, TCC, and IIG – complement one another, and often work in combination to help ensure new housing is supported by, for example: pedestrian/bicycle/transit improvements that connect housing, jobs, schools, and services; urban greening and tree planting to cool urban heat islands, improve air quality, and enhance walk-ability; community gardens and urban farms to offer a healthy local food source and economic development opportunities; clean energy programs that enable residents to reduce their energy bills and greenhouse gas emission, and offer job training and placement; and education and outreach programs that help residents live healthier, more active lives.
“California cities are eager to build denser, affordable housing that connects communities—particularly those in the most under-served areas – to services, jobs, and green spaces. But many face both a lack of funding and inadequate infrastructure” said Kate Gordon, who, as Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, chairs the Strategic Growth Council. “The $800 million available through the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities, Transformative Climate Communities, and Infill Infrastructure Grant programs represent the largest investment the state has every made to help cities break down those barriers.”
Housing affordability has been a top priority for Governor Newsom. In October, Governor Newsom signed 18 bills into law designed to help jumpstart housing production, including SB 330, major legislation aimed at removing local barriers to housing construction and speeding up new development.
The state budget signed in June made a historic $1.75 billion investment in new housing and created major incentives – both sticks and carrots – to incentivize cities to approve new home construction. The budget also provided $20 million for legal services for renters facing eviction as well as $1 billion to help cities and counties fight homelessness.
The high cost of housing and rent has also been the focus of executive action. In the first weeks of his administration, Governor Newsom signed an executive order that created an inventory of all excess state land in order to find parcels to develop into affordable housing, launching partnerships with six California cities in April to develop affordable housing on that land and, last month, announcing the first Request for Proposal (RFP) on state-owned land will be issued in the City of Stockton. The Newsom administration has also enforced state housing law – putting more than forty cities on notice that they were out of compliance with state housing requirements and in jeopardy of legal action.