Winter Update
December | 2021
Letter from the CEO
Legislative Update
Federal Housing Funding Priorities: Key Allocations Signified Ambitious Housing Agenda

The significant levels of housing investment that were included in the BBB Act would have addressed decades of federal underinvestment in affordable housing, particularly for the nation’s lowest-income households. As President Biden said when he announced the Plan’s framework, these funds would have enabled the construction and rehabilitation of more than one million affordable homes.
For starters, one of the most significant policy shifts was to include resources to address homelessness into major HUD programs including the voucher and HOME programs. The majority of the $25B for new vouchers was targeted for extremely low-income households experiencing homelessness or eminent risk of homelessness and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. 
 
Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Vouchers—$25 billion in rental assistance for hundreds of thousands of additional families. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, this would be the single largest expansion of rental assistance in the past 50 years. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that this would provide around 42,500 extremely low-income Californian families with rental assistance, phased in over 5 years and funded through 2029. 

  • Public Housing Capital Needs—$65 billion to preserve existing public housing developments throughout the country that are in need of rehabilitation to address deferred maintenance. Funding for public housing maintenance has not been a funding priority for more than 20 years, so many of these homes are in serious disrepair.

  • Homeownership for First-Generation Homebuyers—$15 billion in funds for downpayment assistance to help hundreds of thousands of new homebuyers purchase their first home and begin to build wealth.

  • National Housing Trust Fund—$15 billion for the National HTF to finance the development and preservation of an estimated 150,000 new homes for extremely low-income families. California is expected to receive approximately $2.7 billion of this allocation.

  • HOME Investment Partnerships Program—$10 billion for eligible activities under the HOME Program, including direct rental assistance and the purchase, new development, and rehabilitation of both affordable rental and for-sale homes.

Read More. . .
What Was in the Final State Budget?

The state budget for FY 2021-22 (covering the period July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022) includes over $22 billion in funding for programs that address the state’s housing and homelessness needs. Included in this amount are regular programs administered by the state, like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and homebuyer programs administered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the California Housing Finance Agency, but also new funds announced as a part of the Governor’s California Comeback Plan. According to the Governor’s Office, the $22 billion housing and homelessness investment will create more than 84,000 housing opportunities for homeless residents and lower-income families.
 
Highlights include :
 
  • $1.75 billion for the California Housing Accelerator Program, which will fund backlogged affordable developments that have been awarded HCD funding but were unable to secure tax credits. It is expected to finance more than 6,300 new homes.

  • $600 million in Regional Early Action Planning Grants to help local jurisdictions plan and implement projects that help address the state’s climate goals. Funding targets new housing development, particularly in infill areas near public transit, and the revitalization of existing communities and corridors.

  • An additional $500 million in State Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

Read More. . .
New California Housing Accountability Unit and Attorney General Housing Strike Force
 
Along with substantial new funding for affordable housing, Governor Newsom recently announced the creation of a new Housing Accountability Unit (HAU) within the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which is charged with providing technical assistance to local agencies to help them comply with recent laws that mandate housing production, including the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (SB 330), Streamlined Ministerial Permit Processes (SB 35), the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Law, Accessory Dwelling Unit laws, the Surplus Lands Act, and the No Net Loss Bonus Law.
 
In addition to technical assistance, the HAU will be charged with enforcing those laws in the event of persistent noncompliance. The state budget includes $4.3 million for the HAU. David Zisser, formerly the Associate Director at Housing California, was appointed to lead the new unit. See the announcement here.
 
Earlier this year, Governor Newsom signed AB 215, which gave both HCD and the Attorney General more power to enforce existing state housing laws. This month, the Attorney General, Rob Bonta, announced the formation of a Housing Strike Force within the California Department of Justice (DOJ), which will focus on tenant protections, affordable housing, and fair housing laws and provide both enforcement and technical assistance.
Potential 2022 Ballot Measures
There are many conversations happening around potential November 2022 ballot measures that impact housing. Four proposed measures that could have a significant impact on housing are highlighted here.

These three initiatives have been cleared by the Attorney General for signature gathering.
 
California Legalize Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness Prevention Fund Initiative—This initiative would legalize sports betting in California and use 85% of the funds raised for homelessness prevention and mental health programs and services. Four California mayors have come forward to endorse the initiative, including the mayors of Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, and Long Beach. The signature deadline for this initiative is May 3, 2022.
 
California Local Land Use and Zoning to Supersede Conflicting State Law Initiative (formerly the Californians for Community Planning and Stop the Sacramento Land Grab Initiative)—This initiative would allow city laws on land use policy, zoning, and development standards to override any conflicting state law as defined to exclude the State controlled coastal zone, and the siting of power plants and other communication or transportation infrastructure. According to its supporters, this initiative will “supersede any previously enacted state laws that strip zoning authority from local jurisdictions, including recently passed SB 9 and SB 10.” The signature deadline for this initiative is May 2, 2022.
Read More. . .
SANDAG: Providing Regional Leadership for Housing Acceleration

This year, LeSar has been engaged by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), to help the agency jumpstart a more impactful role in housing policy and planning to complement their effort to advance a vision for sustainable communities. SANDAG has long been the region’s transportation planning agency, leading long-range plans for highways, transit, bikeways, and more. The agency has also played an important role in housing by distributing housing planning goals to the region’s 19 local jurisdictions. In the future SANDAG will assume a more prominent role in planning for and incentivizing housing to meet the needs of the San Diego region’s growing population.

In 2019, the California department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) awarded SANDAG a $6.8 million Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grant to support planning for an increase in housing development. This award is a result of AB 101 to increase housing planning and efforts to accelerate housing production. LeSar, alongside WSP, the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, and Veronica Tam and Associates, was hired to survey local jurisdictions, develop a housing incentive program, and to provide a framework for equitable housing growth in San Diego.
In October, SANDAG’s Board of Directors took an important step toward defining its role as a regional leader on housing by creating the Regional Equitable Housing Subcommittee to guide the agency’s housing work. And in November, SANDAG released two new grant opportunities for housing acceleration and smart growth planning at the local level.
SCAG, SANDAG Gearing Up for 2022 Housing Policy Leadership Academies
SCAG and SANDAG are offering emerging and established leaders from different sectors a unique opportunity to participate in one of 10 regional Housing Policy Leadership Academies starting in early 2022. Each regional Academy provides participants an in-depth forum to analyze the root causes of the housing crisis and advance equitable, inclusive policy solutions to influence housing production and affordability in their communities and region.
 
Facilitated by LeSar Development Consultants and its affiliate, Global Policy Leadership Academy, Academy sessions will take place once a month for 10 months in a dynamic, virtual learning environment and are supplemented by additional leadership and learning opportunities between sessions. Each Academy will be comprised of approximately 40 people representing diverse stakeholder perspectives. Participation in the Academy is free of charge.
 
To participate in one of the eight Academies in the SCAG region, visit the SCAG Housing Policy Leadership Academy website and submit your application no later than Monday, January 10, 2022.
 
SANDAG will begin accepting applications to its two Academies in mid-December 2021.
 
Interested in participating in an Academy but not located in the SCAG or SANDAG regions? Please sign up on our interest list.
Meet Our New Staff
Jacqueline Woo
As the Senior Associate, Policy and Legislative Applications, Jacqueline tracks policy, legislation and capital resources. Most recently, Jacqueline was the Senior Housing Policy Analyst at Mayor Garcetti’s Office of City Homelessness Initiatives, where she coordinated Federal policy advocacy, tracked Prop HHH and Homekey progress, highlighted the stories of Angelenos facing housing insecurity, and advocated for expanded operating subsidies. If you are interested in the latest developments regarding policy and capital trends, please contact Jac at jacqueline@lesardevelopment.com
Join Our Growing Team!
Homelessness Solutions Team Co-Lead
This position is a key part of LeSar Development Consultants’ leadership, working collaboratively to help set vision, direction, and tone for the firm and its Homelessness Solutions Team. The successful candidate for this role will have deep expertise (10-15+ years) in homelessness systems of care or other safety net systems that serve vulnerable and underserved populations. Ideally, the candidate will have experience working on homelessness and supportive housing systems change work nationally and in California.