Category Archive: housing

  1. Our Top Five for Affordable Housing

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    Image from Habitat for Humanity Portland: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44062891@N03/8641577674

    Image from Habitat for Humanity Portland: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44062891@N03/8641577674

    It’s no secret that California has a serious affordable housing problem. The state is home to the nation’s most expensive rental market and the nation’s least affordable housing market. Nine of the ten most expensive housing markets in the U.S. are located here. And, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office put it, California’s home prices and rents are higher than just about anywhere else. As local policymakers throughout the state grapple with the issue of providing affordable housing, we thought it’d be helpful to provide a “top five” list of interventions that the state’s big city mayors can champion to help address the affordability crisis. (more…)

  2. The Cap-and-Trade Spigot Opens

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    While the efficacy of California’s cap-and-trade program in reducing the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions continues to be a subject of debate, the program’s ability to generate revenue (almost $1 billion through 2014) has been impressive. And as the pot of cap-and-trade revenue grows, the state is seeing more competing proposals for funding. Over the past month or so, proceeds from the auction of emissions permits have been allocated to a host of new programs for some innovative projects. In addition, the state’s cap-and-trade program is focusing resources to serve more low-income and disadvantaged communities. Passed in 2012, SB 535 requires allocating a minimum of 25 percent of the state’s cap-and-trade revenues to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities; a minimum of ten percent of the proceeds must be used for projects located in disadvantaged communities. With this mandate in mind, we look at a few of the more innovative programs that were awarded funding to help improve our most vulnerable communities. (more…)

  3. City of Woodland Houses Nation’s First Zero Net Energy Affordable Housing

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    Non-profit sustainable affordable housing developer Mutual Housing California built the nation’s first certified zero-net energy rental housing project in the City of Woodland. Certified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program, the 3-acre Mutual Housing at Spring Lake project provides 62 affordable apartments and townhomes serving primarily low-income agricultural workers and their families in the community. (more…)

  4. Community-Led Planning

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    Image from Paul Narvaez: https://www.flickr.com/photos/the_photographer/14981389300/in/photolist-9BmgAk-9BpcwY-9Bmbtz-9BmbRB-9Bmcgv-9BpdaG-9Bmdse-9Bmiyi-9xAkXs-9xAiuE-9i4myd-9i227z-9i4CMo-9i1Twn-9xxjEX-9i1ob4-9i1nNe-9i1RCV-9i1RfH-9i4XBq-9i1phT-9i4Q4A-9i1oSR-9i4Tvs-9i1n6v-9xAgEb-9i1QQB-p75Uct-oPS1eM-oPRx6w-9i4DBo-9i4T8d-9i4M6W-9i1NwV-9i1Hik-9i4pR5-cg5rnJ-9xAiTN-9xxi7T-9i1J7p-9i4Uwq-9i1GU2-9i56tQ-9i1K1k-9i4UeG-9i21KT-9i1yo8-fEmcvw-bySMrU-7BwdCE

    Image from Paul Narvaez

    Increased development and investment in infrastructure have the potential to permanently alter the fabric of communities. Local planning efforts, in the form of ordinances or community plans, are just a few of the many tools used to ensure responsible planning and zoning, and provide an avenue for community engagement. However, traditional methods of community engagement can fall short in communities of color. For these populations language barriers, time constraints, and a dearth of easily accessible information conspire to keep residents in the dark. In response, residents and community groups in some locales have upended the traditional planning process and initiated their own planning efforts to guide development on their terms. (more…)

  5. Addressing the Affordability Problem

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    The growing scarcity of affordable housing in many of the country’s real estate markets has reached a critical point. Wage growth in our recovering economy is not keeping pace with soaring housing prices, making it harder for families to find homes in metros experiencing the most job growth. Nationwide, a surplus of 300,000 affordable housing units has, in less than four decades, morphed into a multi-million unit deficit. One of the most persistent problems policymakers and advocates face is the relatively small pool of sustainable, long-term financing available to fund the production of affordable housing units. But new models are emerging, and a mix of market-based interventions coupled with zoning and land use tools hold the most promise for addressing the nation’s affordable housing problem. (more…)

  6. Los Angeles Homeless Count

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    This year’s 2015 Greater Los Angeles County Homeless Count kicked off with the participation of 6,000 volunteers.  The three day effort, hosted by the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA), gave volunteers the option of participating in one of the 87 deployment sites located in Service Planning Areas. (more…)

  7. Rail Transit in Panama

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    Image from ELP Advisors

    Image from ELP Advisors

    With First Rail Transit Line in Central America, Panama Aims to Remake its Urban Centers

    This month, ELP heads south to Panama to explore Central America’s very first rail transit system. With the recent opening of the Panama City’s Metro de Panama, as well as concurrent improvements to MetroBus, the regional bus system, Panama City is poised to not only increase connectivity, but also radically alter its urban landscape.

    In October, a delegation of Panamanian officials, including key legislators, finance experts, and city planning officials, visited California and met with public, private and non-profit sector leaders to discuss issues of social and urban economic development. (more…)

  8. Taking a Second Look at Affordable Housing Costs in California

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    Last month, California’s affordable housing leaders convened to discuss the findings of a statewide study that looked at opportunities to create more cost-efficient affordable housing developments. Issues of distributing scarce affordable housing dollars to the neediest areas in the state and questions about changing the process that developers use to apply for tax credits came to the fore. (more…)

  9. Urban Living: The Tug of War Between Millennials and Baby Boomers

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    Let’s talk about millennials and baby boomers. They’re two generations that are the subject of endless think pieces that can pretty much be summed up as “kids today!” or “they just don’t understand!” But even as the common narrative paints these two groups as warring factions, in the context of urban living, the priorities for both generations are surprisingly aligned. As the generational wars rage on and debate swirls about each group’s respective work ethic, age-appropriate behavior, and character flaws, there’s one realm where these two generations share one common interest – the pursuit of urban living. (more…)

  10. Alternative Models for Maintaining Affordability

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    The creation and maintenance of affordable housing has become more and more difficult to finance, especially in California. The demise of redevelopment agencies eliminated a significant source of funding, and the Great Recession has left many municipalities bereft of funds to finance low- and moderate-income housing. In the absence of government funding, private capital is beginning to fill the void. (more…)