By Zach Friend, County Supervisor 2nd District
Recent community meetings as part of the County’s Strategic Vision process has reinforced something many of us deal with every day – housing costs in our county are a significant challenge. While the Board of Supervisors has worked to improve the housing stock through regulatory changes to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs – also called “granny units”) and other planning changes, we have a long way to go to meet the need of our residents. Some affordable housing units are in the pipeline, including units at Aptos Village, but the County has been looking at community partners as ways to leverage opportunities to build more affordable housing.
The County partners with non-profit housing developers for affordable housing projects including the recent senior housing project at St. Stephen’s, affordable housing at Aptos Blue and other locations. The Board of Supervisors recently formalized a funding contribution to the Monterey Bay Housing Trust (MBHT).
The MBHT is a revolving loan fund sponsored by the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) and Housing Trust Silicon Valley with the goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing for low-income households. MBHT loans can finance acquisition, predevelopment or construction of affordable housing in our county. The fund is intended to raise public and private funds and leverage them on a 4:1 ratio with funding through a partnership with Housing Trust Silicon Valley.
The Board of Supervisors provided funding for the Monterey Bay Housing Trust through the Housing Services Contract with Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz. Funding in this contract is through former redevelopment funds. These funds have requirements that include ensuring that any projects funded are consistent with redevelopment law, including that funds are used for eligible projects, are located within the unincorporated County, that projects target low and moderate income households and meet housing affordability and term of affordability thresholds, among other requirements.
There are two projects in the unincorporated County currently in the pipeline that may be appropriate for partnering – both are in the Live Oak area. One is the Habitat for Humanity project on Harper Street and the other is the MidPen Housing mixed use project currently in the feasibility phase on 17th and Capitola Road.
These two projects can add much needed affordable housing to our community and partnering with non-profit developers (and programs like the Monterey Bay Housing Trust) can help leverage limited funds to bring these projects to reality. Partnering with local organizations on housing is just one piece of a complex puzzle for housing but an essential element.
As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Feel free to contact me at 454-2200.