Hitting the Pavement for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities

August workshops are building on the huge victory advocates scored in June, when the Governor and Legislature reached a landmark budget agreement for the investment of billions of dollars in cap and trade revenue for this year, as well as a framework for future years. This created the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. The program enables the Strategic Growth Council to use $130 million from 2014-15 cap and trade proceeds to support affordable housing, land-use, and transportation efforts that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

But even though the funds are secured, this work isn’t finished by a long shot.

As the Strategic Growth Council’s Executive Director Mike McCoy said to a packed room in Oakland, this “mash-up” program of affordable housing, transit, conservation, and active transportation is going to need stakeholder input to ensure it truly represents sustainable communities and reduces greenhouse gases. The Strategic Growth Council crisscrossed the state this past week, hosting workshops in Fresno, Oakland, and Los Angeles to get feedback from stakeholders such as affordable housing developers, advocates, local and regional agencies. See full timeline below.

ClimatePlan and our partners are speaking up at these workshops to say that the program guidelines need to:
–    Use strong criteria to ensure that multiple sectors—from affordable housing to transit to public health—are all included, and investments will actually advance sustainable communities
–    Reward jurisdictions that are developing projects and have policies in place that maximize greenhouse gas reductions and co-benefits
–    Meaningfully benefit disadvantaged communities and prevent displacement
–    Consider the specific needs of rural communities

ClimatePlan is working hard to ensure all voices are represented, so the AHSC Program guidelines fulfill their promise of many benefits in addition to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. At the workshops, it was clear that ClimatePlan’s unique role, of bringing together diverse organizations and building consensus, was helpful: In Oakland, when attendees split into small groups to discuss program development, ClimatePlan partners in each group reiterated the need for integration, so the program doesn’t just focus on one sector. As a result, one of the workshop’s biggest conclusions was: “If you want an integrated program, you need to ensure that all voices, including conservation, equity, and public health, are at the table.”

These workshops focused on gathering input, leaving key sections for other agencies:
•    One piece that the Air Resources Board will address in separate workshops is how to maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities, as well as creating a consistent methodology for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions.
•    The Natural Resources Agency will address agricultural lands. We will continue to push to ensure that conservation is integrated into the AHSC program, not orphaned.

The Strategic Growth Council has implemented an ambitious timeline (below) to make sure these funds start reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and benefit sustainable communities immediately. Stay tuned.

SGC Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program
Estimated Timeline

August 2014: Three Public Workshops on Guideline Development
September 2014: Release Draft Guidelines
October 2014: Three Public Workshops on Draft Guidelines
November 2014: Release Draft Final Guidelines
December 2014: Final Guidelines presented to Council for Approval
January 2015: Funding Solicitation Released
April 2015: Applications Due
June 2015: Awards Announced

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