Nevada County optimistic on affordable housing despite issues with state |

Nevada County optimistic on affordable housing despite issues with state

California’s goals to increase affordable housing stock have been marred by ineffective state funding mechanisms that may have cost it nearly $3 billion in mismanaged funds that could have gone toward housing, a state audit found.

According to the report, part of the state’s housing shortage stems from ineffective planning and coordination by its financing agencies like the tax credit allocation committee, debt limit allocation committee, and housing finance agency.

The report finds the agencies primarily responsible for developing affordable housing have requirements that are “misaligned and inconsistent,” resulting in an unnecessarily burdensome awarding process.

Nevada County felt the effects of this process with the Cashin’s Field development. The 50-unit project was originally fast-tracked for approval because Nevada City did not meet the state’s required minimum of affordable housing availability, only to be slowed down by stalled funding from the tax credit allocation committee.

Crucial to the delay was that the highly competitive funding pot was opened at the last minute to projects that were not fully entitled (did not receive all necessary local government approvals) despite the state historically favoring fully entitled and shovel-ready projects.

The committee eventually awarded the project nearly $26 million in funding after it reconsidered and decided Cashin’s Field has beat out its non-entitled competitors.

Despite the state’s inefficient funding scheme, Nevada County Housing Director Mike Dent said the county has made the most of its opportunities.

“For a county of 100,000, in western Nevada County alone we have three projects going on,” Dent said. “We’re doing everything we can.”

Dent emphasized the county has covered its bases, with the Lone Oak apartments in Penn Valley focusing on seniors nearing completion, Brunswick Commons in Grass Valley breaking ground and emphasizing at-risk individuals, and Cashin’s Field in Nevada City receiving tax credits for workforce and family-oriented housing.

According to Dent, the county was also approved for its Permanent Local Housing Authority plans in conjunction with Grass Valley and Nevada City. A determination on whether they will be awarded a local housing trust fund that could double the housing authority’s funding could be made any day, Dent said.

The report calls on the state to more closely align its housing plans with its financing agencies to determine how many affordable units can expect to be built based on state resources, and where those resources will have the most impact.

It also calls for a stronger enforcement mechanism to ensure cities and counties are meeting affordable housing goals.

According to the report, Nevada County has 1.7 affordable units per 1,000 residents, with unavailability of housing listed as “very high.” It also lists Nevada City in particular as having a very high cost burden rating with zero affordable units per 1,000 residents.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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