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RED Housing Fund Statement of Need for Support

In December 2018, the City of Santa Rosa (City) and County of Sonoma (County) launched the Renewal Enterprise District (RED), a first of its kind Joint Powers Authority (JPA) formed to achieve fire recovery and rebuild goals by incentivizing higher density, infill, transit-oriented housing in appropriately planned areas. The RED is facilitating a transition away from land consuming, high carbon footprint homes typically located in Sonoma County’s disaster-prone urban fringes by catalyzing the production of transit oriented, centrally located, multifamily housing.

The RED is producing remarkable results. Since its inception, the JPA has assisted project sponsors and housing nonprofits to apply for and win over $62 million in competitive public funding to support construction of 745 new City centered affordable and mixed income rental housing units, in addition to down payment assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers.

In July 2021, the RED launched the RED Housing Fund (Fund), an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, as an additional tool for local developers to access, aiming to quickly and efficiently address the County’s severe housing shortage. The County and City loaned a combined $20 million from PG&E settlements, capitalizing the Fund to make gap-filling loans to housing sponsors with meritorious, shovel ready projects in transit rich areas. With these loans, the Fund is providing subordinate capital to projects that is not available from other capital providers or intermediaries. In January 2022 the Fund received ten loan applications totaling $32.3 million to deliver 800 multifamily housing units at all levels of affordability. With $20 million to loan, the RED Housing Fund is currently oversubscribed by approximately $12 million. After reviewing these applications, the RED Housing Fund Board has recommended $18.9 million in loans for six separate projects to produce 625 units of housing for households ranging from very low income to market rate. With these projects, the Fund is supporting developments serving every resident of the diverse Sonoma County community.

With added lending capital, together we can achieve greater impact at a time when it is most needed. Fortunate to have an efficient lending infrastructure already established, the Fund is aiming to support a strong pipeline of projects ready to produce housing on an accelerated timeline, providing sorely needed relief as Santa Rosa and Sonoma County continue to recover and rebuild for an economically thriving, equity focused, disaster hardened, and climate resilient future.

There is currently a pipeline of over 800 centrally located affordable and workforce housing units in transit rich areas within the RED’s jurisdiction. With a capital infusion of $20 million assembled through various sources and partnerships, both public and private, the Fund could activate the construction of an additional 400-600 multifamily housing units from its robust pipeline of City and County approved projects. Many units are attainable to households earning between 30-60% of the Area Median Income. With the Fund, housing developers have access to gap-filling capital that can quickly move projects forward, helping to create more housing near transit, jobs, services, and other amenities that contribute to healthy and inclusive communities.

Additional information regarding the Fund can be directed to Michelle Whitman (Michelle@REDHousingFund.org).

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