Marin moves $4 million from general fund for affordable housing projects
Author: Richard Halstead
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
Marin supervisors Tuesday approved shifting $4.1 million in general fund money to the county’s housing trust fund to be used to increase the stock of affordable homes.
“It sounds like a lot of money but it is just a drop in the bucket compared with what is needed,” said Supervisor Katie Rice.
Over the past three years, the supervisors have used about $5.9 million in trust fund money to help foster a variety of projects that will ultimately result in 241 affordable units. Some of those projects involved purchasing existing housing on the condition that it will be priced affordably in the future while others involved new development.
Planning Manager Leelee Thomas said the cash infusion would be used to secure larger grants from state, federal and local nonprofit sources. Thomas said to date housing trust funds have leveraged over $58 million from tax credits, state and federal funds, foundations and local philanthropic fundraising.
Prior to the new allocation, there was about $3.1 million remaining in the fund. Of that amount, $1 million has been set aside for the development or preservation of family rental housing outside areas of minority and poverty concentration. Thomas said supervisors approved this set aside due to concerns from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the county was concentrating all of its low-income housing in certain areas, such as Marin City.
“With a number of projects in the pipeline, there would not be adequate funds to continue to ensure that sources are available to support critical affordable housing needs,” Thomas wrote in her report to supervisors.
Several projects that supervisors have already allocated Housing Trust fund money to are expected to need more funding to reach completion.
One such project envisions converting a former U.S. Coast Guard property in Point Reyes Station into affordable housing. The property, formerly used by Coast Guard employees and their families, features 36 townhouses, picnic areas, trails, a dining hall, tennis courts and other facilities.
The West Marin community successfully advocated for the passage of federal legislation to require that the property be sold to Marin County for use as affordable housing. The property remains under federal ownership while the county negotiates a purchase based on a fair-market appraisal.
Thomas said negotiations on the sale of the property are currently on hold due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Stacey Laumann, a project manager at Community Land Trust Association of West Marin, said her organization is “energized and poised to bid for the Coast Guard property.
“But this project in particular will need significant local support,” Laumann said. “We could not do this work without the direct financial support of the county of Marin.”
So far, the Coast Guard project has received $37,725 from the housing trust fund, which it used as predevelopment funds. Thomas said negotiations on the sale of the property on currently on hold due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Another project in the pipeline could result in the construction of 80 new townhomes within 14 buildings at 7711 Redwood Blvd. The 4-acre site is located on the western edge of Highway 101. That project has already received $250,000 from the fund for predevelopment costs.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Khailylah “Kiki” Jordan, interim CEO of the Marin City Health and Wellness Center, said her federally qualified health center also will be seeking funding from the trust fund in 2019. Jordan said the clinic is planning on relocating to a nearby location in Marin City.
“Our plan in development is to include 20 affordable housing units,” Jordan said, “so we want to support this recommendation.”
The project that received the biggest injection of housing trust fund money over the last three years is Victory Village, a 54-unit, affordable senior housing project in Fairfax. In order to maximize opportunities to create affordable housing, supervisors decided not to limit allocations just to projects in unincorporated Marin.
Victory Village, which saw its costs balloon from $28.3 million to $31.2 million due to delays caused largely by neighborhood opposition to dense development, received $3.6 million in loans from the fund. Preparation of the site for construction has already begun.
To read original article posting, click here: https://www.marinij.com/2019/01/15/marin-moves-4-million-from-general-fund-for-affordable-housing-projects/