To the Editor:
The Aug. 9 letter by Rhiannon (“Fair Housing, Fair Process for All”) contained several inaccuracies regarding the East Bay's nonprofit housing development sector, and Berkeley affordable housing public policy.
Rhiannon incorrectly states that Berkeley “donates millions... to a couple of pet nonprofit [housing] corporations” to produce affordable housing in Berkeley.
Over the last 10 years, the city of Berkeley has provided bridge loans – not donations – to at least a half dozen (rather than a “couple”) East Bay-based nonprofit housing developers, including Resources for Community Development, Affordable Housing Associates, Northern California Land Trust, Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS), and Jubulee Restoration among other organizations.
At another point in the letter, Rhiannon states that “the city needs to stop paying the full cost” of affordable housing developments. In actuality, all city Housing Trust Fund (HTF) loans – the source of city housing money – to nonprofit developers represents only a small portion of the development's total cost, typically 15 percent to 30 percent.
The primary purpose of city HTF loans is to enable nonprofit developers to leverage hundreds of thousands or millions of extra dollars from outside banking/institutional sources to fully fund and complete developments.
Finally, Rhiannon states that affordable housing developments have “no regulation or oversight.”
Along with the city of Berkeley's codes and inspections unit and other city agencies and commissions that monitor/audit HTF-financed developments, Berkeley's affordable developments are also subject to state and federal government monitoring/regulating agencies if any state or federal funding is used for construction.
Housing Advisory Commission