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Redevelopment: Affordable Housing Faces Uncertain Future

California redevelopment agencies are officially dissolved today, but the fate of future affordable housing remains in the balance.

As all of California’s more than 400 redevelopment agencies are officially out of business today, state lawmakers moved to preserve $1.36 billion of affordable housing funds.

Senate Bill 654 was approved by the state Senate Tuesday, moving it to the Assembly floor. However, Republicans voted to not to approve it as an urgency measure, so the bill will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2013.

The measure fell three votes short of the 27 required for emergency legislation. Republican lawmakers, including Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, wanted the legislation to cover more than just affordable housing and address what they called major shortcomings of the law that shuts down RDA’s.

Under the law that disbands RDA’s, redevelopment money is now to be redirected to schools and other taxing agencies this year.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he will continue to push for an emergency measure. If the bill passes the Assembly, he said he will try inserting the language to a trailer bill on the budget so the legislation can take effect immediately.

Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers said the city was in support of measures to keep housing funds within Glendora, but was reluctant to assume the latest Senate vote would mirror final legislation.

“…We'll have to wait until we see the final piece of legislation.  In Sacramento, bills can change dramatically from house to house consideration,” said Jeffers. “Also, it is unclear if we can get paid for administering the program and what happens to land assets.”

As of June 30, 2011, Glendora had $2.4 in housing funds.

According to city data, twenty percent of redevelopment funds have been used on affordable housing, especially for seniors.

Heritage Oaks on Glendora Avenue and the Elwood Apartments on Elwood and Route 66 were all ushered in through redevelopment dollars.

Redevelopment funds also currently provides rental subsidies for 80 Glendora residents, as well as loans for low-income homeowners, many of them elderly who struggle with the caretaking of their homes.

Still, even with the passage of SB 654, the loss of new tax funds allocated toward affordable housing projects will make developing future low- and moderate-income housing far more difficult, say experts.

According to the Sacramento  Bee, redevelopment funding for affordable housing has been the second largest funding source in California.

"It's the most flexible layer (of funds)," Brent Hawkins, legal counsel for the California Redevelopment Association, told the Bee. “Without it, either there won't be any more affordable housing built, or we're going to have to figure out a whole new way to do it."

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