State Audit Faults California's Affordable Housing Development Processes

The California State Auditor's office is proposing an overhaul of the state's approach to affordable housing development, citing the cost burdens of the housing market as proof of the necessity for change.

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November 18, 2020, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


City by the Bay

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California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle this week released an audit of the state's housing agencies in an effort to support affordable housing projects, finding affordable housing efforts at both the state and local levels to be ineffective.

California's ongoing affordable housing shortage has contributed to the homelessness crisis and has left more than three million renter households with burdensome housing costs. This shortage in part stems from the State's ineffective approach to planning and financing development of affordable housing at both the state and local levels. Specifically, the State requires a far more effective statewide plan as well as sufficient oversight over the billions of dollars available for construction. In addition, the State's processes for awarding its financial resources for housing development are unnecessarily cumbersome. At the local level, state law and state oversight are not strong enough to ensure that cities and counties (local jurisdictions) are doing their part to facilitate the construction of affordable housing. Therefore, the State needs to improve its statewide housing plan (state housing plan), harmonize its funding programs, and strengthen its oversight of local jurisdictions.

The report faults a lack of coordination between state agencies and barriers to housing development at the local level as key contributors to the state's lack of affordable housing development.

As noted by Matt Levin on Twitter, the auditor also noted that the state let $2.7 billion in bond resources expire without spending the funding on low-income housing.

The audit's summary calls on state legislators to amend the state law to require the California Department of Housing and Community Development to prepare an annual addendum to the state's housing plan and to create an appeals process for developers to resolve disputes over eligible affordable housing projects, among other actions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 in Auditor of the State of California

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