Learn how to apply for $120 million tomorrow – the new AHSC program

Tomorrow is the last workshop to learn how to apply for $120 million through the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.

The SGC has hosted six Technical Assistance workshops around the state; the last one will be tomorrow (Thursday 2/12) in Oakland at 9:30am. NOTE: The workshop is full, but you can  audiostream it here, and questions can be emailed and answered in real time.

For future reference, a webcast of the recent Stockton workshop will also be made available on the SGC website.

What the new AHSC program does
The goal of the AHSC program is to “provide grants and/or loans to projects that will achieve greenhouse gas reductions and benefit disadvantaged communities.”

How, you ask?

“Through increasing accessibility of affordable housing, employment centers and key destinations via low-carbon transportation, resulting in fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through reduced vehicle trip length or mode shift to transit, bicycling or walking.”

Sounds good, right?

It’s a first
No doubt about it, the program is exciting. Putting $120 million toward reducing VMT by building more affordable homes and sustainable communities is a huge deal, a first for California. The funds come from cap-and-trade auction proceeds, so the funds from carbon pollution go toward building in a way that reduces that pollution.

Finally!

It’s not perfect
Of course, the state’s need for affordable housing has a much, much bigger price tag than $120 million, but it’s a start. And there are still some issues with the program, such as transit and density project requirements that may not work for many rural communities, and an applicant scoring process that — oddly — doesn’t account for the reduced GHGs associated with affordable housing.

But this is an important opportunity, and a big precedent.

Two types of projects will be funded: Transit Oriented Development (TOD), and Integrated Connectivity Projects (ICP). TOD projects are eligible for a maximum of $15M, and ICPs are eligible for a maximum of $8M.

Timeline for applying and award announcements
– Project Concept Proposal Due: February 19, 2015
– Invitation to Select Applicants to Submit Full Application: March 11, 2015
– Full Application Due: April 15, 2015
– Staff Recommends Awards: mid-June 2015
– SGC Considers and Approves Staff Recommendations for Awards: Late June 2015

We’ll be watchdogging it
ClimatePlan and its Strategic Growth Council Working Group will be monitoring the process closely throughout this first year of implementation, and will recommend specific improvements as needed. We’re glad to be getting started.

Learn more
For further reading on the AHSC, here are a few great blog posts:

Streetsblog LA
Capitol Reporter
TransForum
California Planning & Development Report

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