SV@HOME CALL FOR ACTION ON COVID-19

SV@Home’s mission is to drive the creation of affordable housing for a more vibrant and equitable Silicon Valley. Since opening our doors in 2015, we have worked to increase housing opportunities throughout the County through policy, advocacy, research, learning, and engagement.

Silicon Valley’s affordable housing crisis is acute. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of challenge to this already enormous crisis.

SV@Home is uniquely positioned to advocate for housing solutions. We know that immediate steps are critically important, but also know that the impact of the pandemic will be felt for a long time requiring both mid-term and long-term responses.

Ultimately, we know that while we need to have a laser focus on the current crisis, we must continue to keep up the fight for investment in new affordable housing development, preservation of existing affordable housing, and protection of our residents from displacement. This will require that—in addition to immediate actions– we double down on our work to increase funding for housing and reduce obstacles to building that have added to the cost and time to bring new homes on line.

Here is SV@Home’s call to action for COVID-19.

Immediate Response

  1. Advocate for funding to respond to the housing impacts of COVID-19
    1. Work with the 3Ps Coalition, the Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and other State partners to advocate for adoption of a State housing relief package that provides immediate assistance to affordable housing providers, tenants, and homeowners.
    2. Advocate for State funding to respond to the immediate needs of lower- income tenants who are undocumented and unable to access federal support
    3. Support the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and other partners in calling for the adoption of a housing relief package in federal Stimulus #4 that provides immediate assistance to affordable housing providers, tenants, and homeowners facing housing insecurity due to COVID-19.
    4. Support efforts to raise money locally to help the most vulnerable in our community.
  2. Support Policies That Require Mandatory Sick Leave
  3.  Homelessness
    1. Support rapid response efforts to bring people indoors
    2. Leverage state properties and facilities by directing State agencies, utility districts and counties to immediately identify and make available public land for temporary or permanent emergency housing construction.
    3. Waive environmental regulations and State building codes for emergency construction of buildings to house people at risk of contracting the virus
  4. Keep People in Their Homes
    1. Enact a temporary moratorium on rent increases and evictions that extends a reasonable period of time after the end of the shelter in place order
    2. Encourage landlords and tenants to work together to restructure rental agreements or develop payment plans that avoid displacement.
    3. Halt foreclosures by requiring forbearance and restructuring of mortgages to enable homeowners and rental property owners to maintain their homes
    4. Protect against utility shut offs and advocate for similar forbearance for utilities that is similar to the rent moratorium.
  5. Protect Existing Affordable Housing
    1. Advocate for local actions to enable affordable housing developments to weather the storm by allowing for deferral of payments, use of reserves, and potential restructuring. This includes:
      1. Cities should defer all payment of 2019 residual receipts owed by affordable housing providers at the property level and allow the funds to be placed in a reserve for the benefit of the properties and residents.
      2. At the end of the year, if the crisis has subsided, allow the use of any unused residual to forgive past due rent owed by tenants.
    2. Create regulatory flexibility in existing State affordable housing programs to help affordable housing owners to operate their developments with reduced rental income
      1. Encourage all lenders to allow forbearance for all affordable housing developments.
      2. Provide opportunities to restructure State loans as an alternative to forbearance.
  6. Allow Residential Construction to Move Forward
    1. Declare that residential construction is an essential service
    2. Continue to take actions that move housing development forward, including permitting, plan review, and building and fire inspections.
    3. Review and remove City- and State-required deadlines for development that might slow due to the pandemic.
    4. Approve new incentives for affordable housing development, including faster processing and reduction or elimination of fees.
    5. As proposed by the California Housing Partnership Corporation, take actions to protect CDLAC and CTAC-funded developments, including enacting bond allocation extensions, extending placed in service deadlines, and granting extensions and waivers of performance deposit forfeitures for both competitive and non- competitive projects.

Mid-Term and Long-Term Response

  1. Make housing a priority at the State and federal levels
  2. Adequately fund housing programs
    1. Expand the Housing Choice Voucher Program
    2. Expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program
    3. Increase private activity bond authority.
    4. Increase the State commitment to affordable housing
  3. Avoid the speculation that happened in 2008 by providing funding to developers to purchase at risk properties for conversion to affordable housing
  4. Strengthen requirements for jurisdictions to meet their fair share of the housing need.
  5. Streamline local processes, lower unnecessary fees, and expand by-right development.
  6. Support the California Housing Partnership Corporation and other partners in calling for the federal government to address the shortage of tax-exempt bonds for new home development by creating an exemption for all affordable housing from the private activity bond cap; or 2) reducing the tax-exempt bond 50% test to 25%.
  7. Advocate for changes to the State CDLAC process to ensure that Santa Clara County developments are competitive for limited 4% credits.
  8. Extend LIHTC deadlines and take action to update the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program as part of a broader stimulus package per the ACTION Coalition letter.

 

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