New Sonoma County housing fund to lend millions in PG&E settlement money for major projects

Ethan Varian, The Press Democrat, October 14, 2021

“A new Sonoma County housing fund spearheaded by local elected officials is set to lend over $20 million in PG&E settlement cash to support planned projects in Santa Rosa and outlying areas starting early next year.

“The fund is touted by officials as the key to jump-starting large-scale developments that will put a dent in the region’s chronic housing shortage and invigorate Santa Rosa’s downtown core.

“Because lenders tend to view the North Bay as a less ‘proven’ market for large, market-rate apartment buildings, banks often end up offering developers smaller construction loans, [Santa Rosa Councilman Jack Tibbetts] said.

“The hope is that the fund can then come in to ‘bridge the gap’ in financing.

“Ideally, that would change financiers’ perception of the county’s real estate market and convince them to offer more attractive loans.

“The fund is getting off the ground as Santa Rosa has made new efforts to attract denser development and reshape its downtown core. Last year, the City Council updated its downtown plan with more lenient zoning and design restrictions in hopes of building 7,000 new homes by 2040.

“When it comes to affordable housing projects, which rely largely on public grants and low-income tax credits, some local nonprofit developers say the fund could provide an advantage in applying for those incentives.”

Read the full article here. (~4 min.)

Related: “Kaiser Permanente will give over $2.5 million in grants to support Sonoma County affordable housing projects as part of an ongoing effort to help the region rebuild and recover in the wake of the 2017 North Bay firestorm… The San Jose-based Housing Trust Silicon Valley will put in additional millions to the local housing fund as part of a matching partnership.” Read a summary of the October 17, 2021 Press Democrat story by Ethan Varian on the new funding. (~1 min.)

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