There are new developments to report from the on-going effort to create more affordable housing. While the developments are not in the form of new construction, there is building momentum within the County’s strategy and approach. As reported by the Auburn Journal, the Placer County Board of Supervisors have approved a framework for a new private housing trust to be led by the North State Building Industry Association. As an independent, nonprofit, the strategy behind the trust is to draw contributions from private, public and nonprofit organizations to help accelerate housing construction in the future.

The distinction between the new private housing trust and Placer County’s public housing trust is flexibility in its ability to accept private donations. The public housing trust is only supported by developer in-lieu fees, which has accrued only about $1 million over the last 20 years. The private trust faces a hefty job as the only tool currently in place to fill the gap between cost of construction and affordability. According to the county’s study, the financial need is $12 million per year.

While many questions linger, particularly around how the trust will generate the substantial level of funds needed, the Board of Supervisor’s action is a welcome step forward. In addition to the trust, the board directed staff to establish a new housing advisory group that will advise the Board of Supervisors with recommendation on how to utilize trust contributions. It is expected that affordable housing advocates will have a seat on the advisory group.

As of the 2018 Annual Housing Progress Report, only 235 out of 3,258 needed units have been produced for very low, low, and moderate-income levels. According to a recent report on Placer County by the California Housing Partnership, more than 79 percent of extremely low-income households are paying over half of their income on housing costs compared to just 5 percent of moderate-income households. As the lack of affordable housing continues to grow, the need for advocacy continues. To keep forward momentum and realize gains in this effort, action is still needed around inclusionary zoning, expedited approval processes for developments, leveraging assets like public land, and future ballot measures.