Since 1975, the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) has developed and preserved over 2,200 homes, housing approximately 3,600 people in Northern California’s East Bay. The nonprofit says it currently manages 1,126 residential rental units in 19 properties. But recently, EBALDC has been sending notices that it has to increase rents on its tenants by hundreds of dollars, including units housing senior citizens and other vulnerable tenants, reports the San Francisco BayView.
And EBALDC isn’t alone. Nonprofit affordable housing developers are facing pressure to hike up rents due to the threat of budget cuts to HUD’s rental assistance subsidies, according to the BayView investigation. Oakland stands to lose $36 million in annual HUD funding, and $21 million of that is for Section 8 housing choice vouchers, according to Affordable Housing Online.
According to HUD data, there are 91,747 housing choice vouchers issued in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland area, and another 4,153 units receive project-based HUD rental assistance in multifamily buildings in Oakland alone.
By another count, there are 7,108 low-income units in buildings with low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) financing in Oakland — including 2,370 developed by nonprofits. Out of LIHTC-financed nonprofit affordable housing in Oakland, about 1,100 units receive federal project-based subsidies of some kind.
No matter how you slice or count it, all of that low-income housing is at risk due to either HUD budget cuts, expiring LIHTC units (which have either a 15- or 30-year compliance period), or expiring federal rental assistance.
At the same time Oakland is losing affordable housing units, it’s hardly building many more. As reported in the East Bay Times, of the thousands of building permits Oakland approved in 2016, less than 2 percent were for affordable housing, according to a new city report on housing development.
The low figure was enough for the East Bay Express to ask whether Oakland discriminates against developers who submit construction permit requests for projects that include affordable housing. Oakland City Council, the East Bay Express says, is set to approve funding for a contract with a consultant to determine if that is the case.
Oscar is Next City's senior economics correspondent. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha, and Fast Company.