In 2017, Sacramento Housing Alliance engaged the research firm Bay Area Economics to lay out public financing options to raise local revenue for affordable housing. A Sacramento City sales tax was one of those options, and with a new mayor who came to office on a campaign platform that included taking immediate action to reduce homelessness, it seemed to be the right time to move forward with a bold affordable housing financing agenda. With the passage of Measure U and Mayor Steinberg’s insistence that the new tax revenues be used to increase economic equity, including investments in affordable housing, that bold financing agenda may finally be emerging. After effective organizing campaigns by Sacramento Housing Alliance, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, and a broad coalition of business, community and faith organizations, the City Council began coalescing around Mayor Steinberg’s vision. The City Council rallied behind a specific fund allocation proposal from City Councilmember Steve Hansen which includes an affordable housing development financing gap fund that would start with $100 million raised over two years through bonding a portion of Measure U proceeds.

Sacramento Housing Alliance is advocating that at least half of that $100 million be dedicated to developing housing for those City residents most shut out of the housing market — homeless individuals and families and those households with incomes below 30% of area median income. We are also advocating that the City set up an aggressive timeline for the bonding process and ensure efficiency and transparency in allocating these funds. Every month of delay in allocating these funds to affordable housing developments is another month of of the State allocating limited affordable housing matching funds to developers in other jurisdictions that already have local housing funds available to leverage the State monies.

This new proposed Affordable Housing Development fund signals a new City commitment to alleviating the housing crisis and and an understanding that the solution to homelessness is a large inventory of permanent affordable housing.

With this new funding initiative, the City of Sacramento is once again clearly taking the lead in creating real housing and homeless solutions. We urge the County of Sacramento and the other jurisdictions in the County (Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova) that have declared a housing and homeless state of emergency to follow the City of Sacramento’s lead. We must not wait for the crisis to deepen. The time to invest in affordable housing is NOW!