The Latest News

November| 2022

State News

It’s Election Time!

Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate

In just a few days, the polls will close and the votes will begin to be tallied. There are a lot of important measures on ballots throughout the State that will have an impact on affordable housing. The Terner Center for Housing Innovation just released a report that details 52 measures on the November ballot throughout the State, including housing-friendly measures that seek to create new revenue sources for housing and establish stronger tenant protections, and land use measures that seek to limit the number of units and where housing can be built. Check out the report and a chart of all the ballot measures here.

Funding for Homelessness Put on Hold

Yelba Carrillo, Principal and Co-Lead of the Homelessness Solutions Team

In a surprise announcement last Thursday, Governor Newsom alerted local officials that he will hold a convening with local leaders in mid-November to improve the collective approaches to addressing homelessness, and that he is holding back on releasing the third round of funding under the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) grant program until this convening. The Governor expressed dissatisfaction with the Homeless Action Plans submitted to date by local jurisdictions and effectively rejected them all. In a press release announcing the move, the Governor highlighted that the plans project only a 2% reduction in homelessness throughout the State over a four-year period.


Article 34 on the Ballot

Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate

In November of 1950, California voters passed Proposition 10, which added Article 34 to the State Constitution. Known as the Public Housing Law, Article 34 requires that cities obtain approval from a majority of voters before affordable homes financed with public funds can be acquired or developed. Some jurisdictions—like Santa Clara County and San Jose—have passed blanket measures that effectively allow publicly-funded development to move forward without further voter action, while others have passed measures that allowed for the development of specific projects or for a limited number of new homes. Read more... 

AB 2234 Improves Building Permit Process

Chul Gugich, Principal

Despite moving through the legislative process under the radar, AB 2234, authored by Assemblymembers Rivas (Salinas) and Grayson (Concord), will have an important impact on the process for post entitlement residential building permits. While recent legislation, including SB 330, has established new requirements under the Permit Streamlining Act (PSA) for the completeness of a permit application and the timeline for approvals, until now these requirements have only applied to discretionary approvals (such as conditional use permits and tentative subdivision maps) and not ministerial acts typically approved by city staff and not by elected or appointed bodies (like building and demolition permits). Read more...

“Builder’s Remedy” Looms Large

Farzad Mashhood, Senior Associate

More than 120 cities in Southern California are not in compliance with State housing element law, and many Northern California communities could soon join them if they miss their housing element approval deadline of Jan 31, 2023. Communities that are not in compliance are unable to access many State housing and transportation funds, but they also face a situation known as the “Builder’s Remedy.” This is a feature of the 1990 Housing Accountability Act which enables developers seeking to build new homes in jurisdictions that are not in compliance and have failed to meet their housing targets to move quickly, as long as 20% of the homes will be affordable, 100% are affordable to moderate-income households, or it is an emergency shelter.

Without an approved housing element, cities lose zoning control, and development can move forward by-right anywhere in the city and at any height and density regardless of zoning or General Plan designation. The builder’s remedy is currently untested in court, and some cities have indicated they may seek legal action or may challenge any proposed developments under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Read more...

Attorney General Releases Guidelines for Development in Fire-prone Areas

Natalie Donlin-Zappella, Principal and Lead of the Policy and Legislative Research and Applications Team

According to the Attorney General, about one-third of the State’s housing stock is currently located in areas prone to wildfires. California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta released guidance for local governments to use when considering new housing development in areas that are at risk of wildfires. CAL FIRE has released maps to show the location of areas it considers at-risk. 

The guidance is intended to help jurisdictions comply with CEQA requirements when determining how to mitigate the impact of a development on wildfire ignition, emergency access, and evacuation. The report includes a list of mitigation measures that can be employed in order to meet CEQA requirements, including relying on higher density infill developments, upgrading building measures beyond what is required by code, and creation of buffer zones and defensible space. Read more here.

Federal Updates

Congress on Recess Until After the November Election

Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate

Although Congress won’t return to Washington until after the November election, work continues behind the scenes to negotiate a 2023 budget. Congress has until December 16th to enact a final spending bill or extend the current Continuing Resolution. Absent one of those actions, the government will shut down and government workers deemed non-essential will be furloughed and some services to the public will be impacted.

LDC Updates

LDC CEO Jennifer LeSar Opens Historic Joint Session of San Diego City Council and County Board of Supervisors


Farzad Mashhood, Senior Associate

LeSar Development Consultants CEO Jennifer LeSar provided the opening presentation at a rare joint meeting of the San Diego City Council and County Board of Supervisors on Monday, October 3, 2022. Ms. LeSar emphasized the region’s chronic and historic undersupply of housing and its impacts on low-income households and homelessness as the root causes for the region’s housing crisis.

About 200 people attended the historic meeting – the first time in 22 years that the two elected bodies met together – focused specifically on the region’s housing crisis and the importance of leveraging publicly owned land to create affordable housing. Ms. LeSar’s presentation provided a common understanding of the housing crisis, including the following key facts:

  • The region needs a 300% increase in affordable housing production to meet its need of 100,000 affordable homes built by 2029;

  • A single individual earning $72,900 a year is considered low-income;

  • The majority of the region’s very low-income renter households are severely cost burdened, meaning more than half their income goes to rent; and

  • The region’s count of nearly 8,500 people experiencing homelessness is just a fraction of the true number of low-income households at risk of homelessness.

The session drew coverage from several local news outlets, and more than 40 community members provided public comment.

The meeting ended with unanimous support from both the Council and the Board of Supervisors for resolutions that support creating 10,000 affordable homes on publicly-owned land. The San Diego Foundation presented its work to highlight public land across the region that could be prioritized for affordable housing development, using a data-driven model that analyzed the suitability of hundreds of properties owned by public agencies in the region.

LA Community Land Trust Program Report Released by Liberty Hill Foundation, with Research Support from LDC

Natalie Donlin-Zappella, Principal and Lead of the Policy and Legislative Research and Applications Team

In October, Liberty Hill Foundation, with support from the California Endowment and LeSar Development Consultants, released an independent report on the Los Angeles Community Land Trust (CLT) Partnership Program—a pilot acquisition and rehabilitation program approved and initiated two years ago by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The report, Preventing Tenant Displacement through Community Ownership Pathways, examines the implementation of the program.

With an initial county investment of $14 million, the Pilot CLT Partnership Program preserved eight multifamily properties across all five supervisorial districts with a total of 43 residential units, enabling 110 individuals to live in stabilized affordable housing. These dollars were used to cover the full cost of all acquisitions, without debt, and to partially rehabilitate some properties. Of the occupied units, 95 percent of households are Black, Indigenous and people of color: at least 59 percent of the residents are Latinx, 24 percent are Asian, 7 percent are African American, 5 percent are Caucasian, and 5 percent indicated “other.” Read more...

Reports and Toolkits

Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate

NLIHC Releases “State of Homelessness: 2022 Edition”


The National Low Income Housing Coalition released its 2022 report on homelessness, which compiles information from all 50 states on the state of homelessness. This report is more limited than past years due to the challenges faced by jurisdictions in conducting their biannual Point-in-Time homeless counts during the pandemic. As a result, the report uses data from 2020 with updates highlighted when new information is available.

In January 2020, 580,466 people were reported in the nation’s shelters and on the streets. Of this number, 110,528 were chronically homeless—those who have experienced continuous homelessness for at least a year or at least four times in the last three years for a period equivalent to a year. It is not expected that there will be a more comprehensive count until late 2022 or early 2023.

White House Announces Progress on Housing Supply Action Plan

The Biden Administration released a statement on the progress made since the Housing Supply Action Plan was released in May. Notably, on October 7th, the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced the final income-averaging rule, which would enable housing developments to qualify for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) based on the average of the income limits for restricted units rather than a single income limit. This action will allow for the creation of more mixed-income developments and enable the cross subsidization of units to strengthen financial feasibility. Additionally, the IRS announced a number of deadline extensions for LIHTC projects that enable developments impacted by COVID-related issues to still qualify under the program.

Harvard Researchers Dive into Housing and Technology

Researchers from Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies released a framing paper called Bringing Digitalization Home: How Can Technology Address Housing Challenges? This paper sets the stage by providing background on the digital revolution and how it is transforming housing in both positive and negative ways. Several authors have been commissioned to prepare papers to share their ideas and whether and how society might respond to the changes. As highlighted in the paper, technology has transformed the way that housing is produced, marketed, sold, financed, managed, and used. Some of these digital tools have become regular and important tools, such as real estate listings on Zillow and Redfin. The eleven papers that have been commissioned will dive into housing design and construction, real estate investment, planning and regulation, housing finance, and will focus on how digitalization has changed housing and the housing market, how it will impact housing-related economic, social, and environmental challenges, and how the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can ensure that these changes produce more beneficial economic and environmental outcomes.

Articles of Interest

CDCs Are Having a Moment. Can the Momentum Last? Shelterforce—October 7, 2022


California Homeless Population Grew by 22,000 Over Pandemic—Cal Matters—October 6, 2022


The Housing Revolution is Coming—The Atlantic—October 6, 2022


Just 3 California Lawmakers Say They’re Renters. Now They’re Starting a Renter’s Caucus—Sacramento Bee-- October 21, 2022


Affordable Housing as a Homeless Right: Activist Diane Yentel on the U.S. Housing Crisis, Racial Justice and Democracy—Ms. Magazine—September 21, 2022


An Open Letter to LA’s Next Mayor Outlines 10 Proposals to Speed Up the Production of Affordable Housing—Architect News—September 30, 2022


Is Wall Street Really to Blame for the Affordable Housing Crisis?—New York Times- October 19, 2022

Is the California Accelerator Really Accelerating?—Affordable Housing Finance—October 17, 2022

Join Our Growing Team

Jennifer LeSar, President and Founding CEO


Earlier this year, we re-organized into a family of firms to more clearly distinguish the work of our different teams. We are now set up as a portfolio of firms that collectively have the mission to provide capacity solutions for strong, resilient communities. The portfolio of firms works closely together to address issues critical to ending the housing affordability and homelessness crises.


  • LeSar Holdings: centralizes our executive team and operations teams all in one firm providing support for each of the client-facing portfolio firms.  This company is looking for a Chief Operating Officer (COO) to report directly to the CEO. That position is linked here: Chief Operating Officer – LeSar Holdings


  • LeSar Development Consultants (LDC): our legacy firm continues to collaborate with leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change through customized consulting services focused on creating physically, economically, and environmentally resilient communities. As we grow, we are enabling team members to move into new positions that provide career growth. As such our current Co-Team Leader of our Housing Team, Helmi Hisserich, will be shifting to a new position in January that will enable her to continue to focus on her scaling model work, the social housing model, and a variety of other thought leadership work underway in-house.  This growth move for Helmi has opened up her position which is now posted here: Housing Team Co-Lead – LeSar Development Consultants.


  • Global Policy Leadership Academy (GPLA): prepares professionals and civic leaders to advance solutions to intractable societal challenges through a deep commitment to the development of shared knowledge, best practices, and collaboration.


  • LeSar Support Services (LSS): helps clients design, plan, implement, and manage large social impact initiatives through financial intermediary, case management, community benefit organization liaison and contracting, and grants management services.  This organization is now looking for a senior associate and the position is linked here: Senior Associate – LeSar Support Services.

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