Ensuring Equity in Affordable Housing Investments in San Joaquin County

May 18, 2022

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FUSE Corps

The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) recently approved the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) program to accelerating housing production and advance regional housing priorities, including a Regional Housing Trust Fund (RHTF). SJCOG will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow to project manage a feasibility assessment for establishing a RHTF in the region and determining how to allocate a second tranche of $10.6M in REAP funds to accelerate housing production.

This fellowship project begins on July 25, 2022, and ends on July 24, 2023. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of July 25, 2022. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on August 1, 2022.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Cities and counties throughout California are facing a dire affordable housing crisis. The San Joaquin Region is no stranger to these housing woes – across the cities and the county, there are not enough homes to meet the current need and not enough funding to build the necessary units. Extremely low-income renters in the county are severely rent-burdened, spending more than half their income on rent. And these low-income renters, as well as households of color, are particularly vulnerable to eviction. The lack of homes at affordable price points puts thousands of residents in financially precarious situations, affecting the county’s overall economic vitality.

Building a broader range of housing in the region would help alleviate the severe cost burden for renters in San Joaquin County and encourage housing stability. With this in mind, in late 2020, the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) Board adopted Regional Housing Priorities. These priorities are a mix of strategies that can be implemented regionally or locally to plan and accelerate housing development. These priorities include establishing a regional housing trust fund, streamlining the development process, improving regional planning and coordination, and supporting local jurisdictions that may have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. And in February 2021, the SJCOG Board approved a historic program – the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) program – the first-ever regional funding program for planning activities related to housing. The REAP program, funded by California Department of Housing and Community Development, will be used to advance the adopted priorities, accelerating housing production.

Establishing a Regional Housing Trust Fund was identified among housing stakeholders as a much-needed financing tool to support housing production, particularly at the levels of affordability currently in short supply across the region. For SJCOG and the area, a Regional Housing Trust Fund would establish a dedicated funding source for local affordable housing needs. With the initial allocation of REAP funds, SJCOG seeks to develop a Regional Housing Trust Fund framework, which would entail a rigorous planning process. 

SJCOG will partner with FUSE Corps to support advancing the Regional Housing Priorities, primarily by project managing a feasibility assessment for establishing a Regional Housing Trust Fund (RHTF) in the region. The FUSE Executive Fellow will work closely with an external consultant to ensure equity is considered and defined in the program’s parameters, including goals, administration, fund distribution, and funding sources. The Executive Fellow will also determine how to allocate the second tranche of $10.6M in REAP funds, supporting additional affordable housing programs and policies in the region that will complement the RHTF. Overall, FUSE will help SJCOG plan the preservation and production of affordable housing in the region, increasing opportunities for families and individuals to access decent, affordable homes. 

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first month of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency

Starting in July 2022, it is proposed that the FUSE Executive Fellow will work to quickly build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including housing and development staff across San Joaquin County and the cities of Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Escalon, and Lathrop; staff in SJCOG, the Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin, the Building Industry Association of the Greater Valley, affordable housing developers, and affordable housing advocates to understand the current housing crisis in the San Joaquin Valley. The Executive Fellow will also review existing affordable housing finance policies across the region and review all relevant SJCOG documents, such as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation Plan and Community Diversity and Displacement Study, to inform broader discussions. 

The Executive Fellow will engage closely with the external consultant to review progress made on the RHTF to date, utilizing an equity lens. The fellow will research best practices in other cities and counties throughout the country to identify solutions that support equity and can be integrated into SJCOG’s proposed RHTF. This will include revamping the public engagement processes to facilitate more equitable housing outcomes beyond the RHTF. This will consist of conducting a needs assessment, facilitating focus groups or key informant interviews with the community, informing programming priorities that complement the launch of the RHTF. The Executive Fellow will build an outreach plan that ensures advocacy groups and community members can deliver their feedback on proposed housing policy and programs, ensure their buy-in, and develop consensus throughout the community on how to best address the factors that most impact housing costs.

The Executive Fellow will utilize this information to develop a framework to support SJCOG in deploying the second tranche of REAP funds. The framework will include recommendations around prioritization of investments, sustainment of currently funded initiatives, timelines and phased infusion of funds, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and equity strategies and guidelines for developing and delivering REAP-funded programs. The Executive Fellow will also play an essential role in creating an evaluation framework and monitoring mechanisms for these REAP investments. As disbursements are made, the Executive Fellow will track progress and institute continual process improvements to ensure program efficiency and effectiveness.  

Because both programs are interconnected and complementary, the Executive Fellow will balance priorities and deliverables 50-50 between RHTF project management and REAP program development and monitoring. Specific deliverables include: development, adoption, and approval of a REAP 2.0 Program by SJCOG Board (estimated December 2022) and delivery of a RHTF framework with clear implementation plan (estimated June 2023).

By July 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Assess the current landscape – Gain an in-depth understanding of existing efforts, policies, ordinances, and interests related to affordable housing availability and access in San Joaquin Region; map planned or existing initiatives funded by REAP dollars; identify regulatory and procedural impediments to creating affordable housing policies or programming
  • Review progress to date and support the development of an RHTF – Work closely with the external consultant to project manage the planning process; ensure that equity is considered and defined in the parameters of the program, including goals, administration, fund distribution, and funding sources; research approaches used in other regions that have developed Housing Trust Funds
  • Engage with external stakeholders to establish deep relationships and identify opportunities that align with an RHTF – Demonstrate cross-cultural agility and successfully engage with all relevant stakeholders; Executive Fellow will conduct outreach to COG’s jurisdictions to inform a recommendation of how to best support the development of fair and compliant housing elements and identify opportunities to support local housing element implementation; establish relationships with community-based organizations, neighborhood representation, and housing advocates; conduct a needs assessment and design approaches to continuous public engagement that lead to viable solutions with buy-in across stakeholders; utilize these conversations to inform programming priorities and build consensus around the development of an RHTF
  • Develop a distribution framework, support delivery of REAP-funded investments – Form recommendations for maximizing the impact of these funds; layout timelines and phased infusion of funds, ensuring the long-term viability of suggested investments; establish equity strategies and guidelines for developing and delivering REAP funded programs; provide support for staff across the region in following any regulatory guidance
  • Determine how to measure outcomes and assess progress – Analyze and monitor REAP investments, defining Key Performance Indicators and metrics for success; determine monitoring mechanisms, evaluate the performance of projects and provide opportunities for reflection, creating space for continual improvement throughout implementation; publish reports on program progress and results 

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Kim Anderson, Deputy Director of Planning, San Joaquin Council of Governments
  • Project Supervisor – Christine Corrales, Senior Regional Planner, San Joaquin Council of Governments
  • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Approximately 15 years of professional experience in the housing space, with strong experience in/passion for affordable housing, prior work with technical housing planning tools and policy desirable
  • Robust record of success with project management, engaging a variety of cross-sector stakeholders and managing cross-functional teams
  • Politically astute, strategic decision-maker who is effective at mapping out processes that can be seamlessly incorporated into a larger management structure
  • Demonstrates cross-cultural agility with a keen ability to relate to diverse audiences and varying interests with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who is also an independent worker
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.