Housing crisis defined: Stanislaus lacks 20,000 rentals for the poor, report says

The Stanislaus County Affordable Housing Corp. owns and manages Courtney Manor, which provides housing for low- and very low-income residents.
The Stanislaus County Affordable Housing Corp. owns and manages Courtney Manor, which provides housing for low- and very low-income residents.

Stanislaus County needs nearly 20,000 more apartments and other affordable housing to meet the needs of its low-income renters, according to a California Housing Partnership Corp. report issued Wednesday.

The report says the lowest-income households spend 58 percent of their income on rent, leaving just 42 percent for other expenses. There are roughly 29,000 of these households in the county, and their income is 50 percent or less than the roughly $56,800 median income for the approximately 75,000 households that rent in Stanislaus County, according to the housing partnership.

The report says there are roughly 10,000 rental units that are affordable for very low and extremely low income households in the county, but the need is for nearly 30,000 units.

And renters need to earn 2.4 times the minimum wage of $11 an hour to afford the median rent of $1,350 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Stanislaus County, according to the report.

The report points to reductions in state and federal funding for affordable housing projects as among the reasons for the deficit in the county. That includes the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies in 2012, which cities and counties used to finance low-income housing.

The report comes as Stanislaus County and its cities — like other California communities — face an affordable housing crisis as rents continue to spike, along with a homelessness crisis.

The Legislature created the California Housing Partnership in 1988 to help preserve California’s supply of affordable housing and to provide leadership on affordable housing policy and resource issues, according to the partnership’s website.

Despite the affordable housing shortfall, Alicia Sebastian with the California Coalition for Rural Housing said she was encouraged by efforts in Stanislaus County to bring affordable housing developers, local governments and other partners together to address the issue. She said this effort is a model for other communities across the state.

Sebastian took part in a conference call with California Housing Partnership Corp. officials to discuss the report.

Stanislaus County Housing Authority Executive Director Barbara Kauss said those efforts include the county’s Focus on Prevention initiative. She added this community is different from others because of the high level of cooperation among developers, local government, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, lenders and others who take on affordable housing projects.

“It’s an environment of support for affordable housing among all the partners,” Kauss said.

But she added that the California Housing Partnership report points to a real issue. “We cannot say we don’t have an affordable housing crisis,” she said. “But a lot of people are coming together to work on it, and that’s huge.”

The report issued statewide and local recommendations. The Housing Authority provided input for the local ones. The recommendations include:

Advocating for the passage of Proposition 1 (The Veterans and Affordable Housing Act) and Proposition 2 (The No Place Like Home Act) on the November ballot to provide $6 billion in state bonds to help veterans, the homeless, the disabled and others with affordable housing

Expand the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program by $300 million annually

Make it easier and faster for developers in Stanislaus County to use local government programs that offer fee reductions and waivers and create more of these programs

Designate land in Stanislaus County for infill projects that allow for alternative forms of housing, including smaller or modular homes