Thousands of affordable homes and jobs would be lost across California if the state eliminates local redevelopment agencies (RDAs), according to housing advocates.
A recent survey of 57 affordable housing developers revealed that they are working on 166 redevelopment-funded projects, according to Dianne Spaulding, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH). These projects account for nearly 11,000 new homes, revealed the survey that was conducted with the California Housing Partnership Corp.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Spaulding.
Advocates say the figures represent only a small sampling of what is at risk if RDAs are dismantled as proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown as part of his budget-balancing plan.
Redevelopment agencies are required to set aside 20 percent of their funds for affordable housing. However, many agencies dedicate much more.
For example, San Francisco’s redevelopment agency has allocated more than half of its funding to affordable housing projects in the city in the past 10 years. The agency has 1,400 units in 11 projects that are in pre-development and will be at risk without future funding, according to NPH.
Taking away the RDAs and their funding would hurt affordable housing efforts at a time when the state is still recovering from foreclosures and the credit crisis. The state also has some of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. “We don’t just have a budget crisis, we have a housing crisis,” Spaulding said.
For the last several weeks, developers and advocates have been battling to save the RDAs or to find some sort of compromise. It hasn’t been an easy fight.
In early March, state Controller John Chiang issued a stinging critique of RDAs, saying they lack accountability. His office reviewed 18 of the roughly 400 agencies statewide.
Released just days before the state Legislature is expected to begin voting on a budget, the report cited inappropriate charges to the housing funds of several RDAs, including the city of Los Angeles charging 20 percent of its redevelopment administration costs to the fund and the city of Hercules charging $9,600 for lobbyist expenses.
Throughout the battle, Housing California has been very active on the issue and has prepared fact sheets as well as an alternative plan to provide housing funding. For more, visit www.housingca.org.
In addition to participating in a Sacramento rally, affordable housing developers in California have been calling their legislators and writing letters. They have been urging officials to take a slow and careful approach to reforming redevelopment and not eliminate it.