The Bay Area Council has long advocated for a strong regional approach to addressing our housing crisis, including supporting legislation that created the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). In this guest item highlighted in the council's Weekly Flash newsletter, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chair Alfredo Pedroza and Association of Bay Area Governments Chair Jesse Arreguin outline the purpose and objectives for BAHFA.
As leaders of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the two of us recently completed a regional listening tour with business, government and labor leaders to better understand our shared economic challenges. We heard what cities and counties are doing to meet those challenges and asked what we could do as regional agencies to help add value to their work.
Most participants agreed the biggest problem today is a lack of affordable housing and the related homelessness crisis. One participant said tech workers have choices: they can pay $3,800 a month for an apartment in San Francisco or they can buy a house in Austin or Denver. If it’s that much cheaper to live in other places, they asked, how do we retain workers and businesses in the Bay Area?
The good news is ABAG and MTC are standing up the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA), the first regional housing finance authority in California, to share best practices, build regional capacity, develop metrics to measure success and provide powerful financing tools to raise new housing revenue from a regional ballot measure, state or federal appropriations, and philanthropic and corporate contributions. Our work is guided by the “3Ps”: protecting current residents from displacement, preserving existing affordable housing, and producing new housing.
For years now Bay Area cities and counties have spent increasing amounts of money to create permanent homes for their unhoused residents. Yet our homeless populations continue to grow. While we have developed successful programs that provided supportive housing, in the time it takes us to house two formerly homeless people another three people have become homeless.
With $20 million in new state funds, BAHFA is launching five pilot programs to advance our 3Ps. Two directly address preventing homelessness before it starts. Created with input from All Home and our policy partners, they focus on finding the people at greatest risk of eviction and homelessness — often low-income families with no savings — and providing them with the services and rent subsidies they need to stay housed and become more financially secure.
We look forward to working with Bay Area businesses as well as with our cities, towns, counties, partner agencies and other stakeholders to make the Bay Area a more affordable, resilient, connected, vibrant, healthy, diverse and equitable place to live.