with international speaker
Dr Rob Wiener
This will be my first time. I am very excited!!!
Since 1981, I have been the Executive Director of the California Coalition for Rural Housing, the oldest statewide low-income housing advocacy coalition in the U.S. and the only statewide rural housing coalition. CCRH is a membership association of community-based nonprofit housing developers and advocates working to improve the housing and infrastructure of rural and low-income Californians. We deliver a comprehensive program of policy advocacy, training and technical assistance, leadership development, asset-building, and research. Currently, we offer the following program components:
Statutory, Regulatory, and Administrative Advocacy: Work in the California Legislature and with State housing and community development agencies to ensure that rural communities get their fair share of State financing resources and programs are designed to fit rural conditions.
Training and Technical Assistance: Build the capacity of tribal, farmworker, and other low-income rural communities to perform community needs assessments, plan to meet their housing and infrastructure needs, develop competitive funding applications, partner with nonprofit housing development organizations, and run effective housing programs.
Asset-Building: Fund matched savings programs, called Individual Development Accounts, that enable low-income savers to save methodically towards purchase of an asset, such as an entry-level home, college education, or business start-up.
Elder Financial Abuse: Educate older adult residents of CCRH-member rental properties to detect, avoid, and report instances of identity fraud and other scams to defraud and cheat the elderly.
Leadership Development:Recruit, place, and train upper-division university students from immigrant and minority communities who are hosted by CCRH-member organizations and learn how to become rural housing professionals.
Policy Advocacy Research: Conduct applied research on topical issues in housing and social and economic inclusion to educate the public, build public acceptance, and further policy campaigns.
In addition, since the early 1990s, I have been on the faculty of the University of California, Davis, Community and Regional Development Program where I teach courses on Housing and Social Policy and Housing, Homelessness, and Poverty in the U.S., as well as a summer study abroad course on Housing and Urbanism in Barcelona. I have a doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and have published extensively in academic books and journals on various affordable housing issues.
California has a population of about 40 million. Although only about 5% of the population lives in U.S. Census-defined “rural” towns and places, they occupy a vast geographic area. Most rural residents, however, reside in small towns in metropolitan counties anchored by large cities. Because of the limitations of the Census definition, State housing and community development programs use a more expansive definition that that allows communities up to 40,000, unless located within or contiguous to a metropolitan statistical area, to compete as rural communities. The way we typically ensure that these communities can compete on a level playing field is to create rural set-asides or targets within specific housing programs. For example, our Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program has had a 20% rural set-aside for over 30 years. Other housing programs also earmark a portion of the funds for rural communities and allow these communities to compete against each other. Some programs originated just to serve rural communities, such as a rural predevelopment loan program, rural land purchase program, and self-help housing and farmworker housing programs that primarily serve rural communities.
Our current new Governor, while running for office, proposed to pursue a Marshall Plan for housing to build 3.5 million housing units and 1.5 million affordable housing units in the next eight years. The federal LIHTC program has been a central, although not the sole, stimulant for the production of affordable rental housing. In addition, California is one of a handful of states that operates a parallel State LIHTC program to augment the federal credit, including a Farmworker Housing Tax Credit. The Legislature and Governor are proposing to increase the State tax credit by $500 million (Assembly Bill 10).
According to a recent study by the California Housing Partnership Corporation, the LIHTC Program has resulted in the production and preservation of 335,000 rental homes in 4,200 developments in the last 30 years. It has leveraged billions of dollars of new investment, created 375,000 jobs, and generated $14 billion in tax revenue.
California has a sordid history of extermination and disappropriation of native peoples. The state has the largest number of persons of native ancestry of any state in the U.S., about 365,000 residents, and the largest number of federally-recognized tribes – 109. However, the vast majority of California’s native population lives in large cities and only a small percentage – less than 10% or about 33,000 – live on tribally-owned and ancestral lands, an average size of about 4,000 per tribe. California tribes are small relative to tribes in other states and, therefore, their institutions for delivering housing and other services tend also to be under-developed and under-resourced. Until recently, California tribes relied almost exclusively on federal funding programs to support housing and infrastructure development. In 2014, the LITHC program in California was opened to tribes due to advocacy from CCRH and our tribal partners. Since, six tribal rental housing projects have been funded and built. CCRH works closely with tribes and other organizations to build the capacity of tribes to access and implement state housing programs. Legislation we are sponsoring (Assembly Bill 1010) will extend eligibility to allow tribes to apply for nearly all State housing and housing-related infrastructure programs and recreated a unit called the California Indian Assistance Program within the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
Have you visited Australia before?
Can you tell us a little about your background, and your experiences in the US, particularly with CCRH?
It would seem that California and NSW face similar challenges, with a concentration of housing in urban areas and regional (housing) markets that can get left behind economically. How has California addressed this?
We have had NRAS here and Federal Labor has recently committed to 250k new affordable homes through a tax credit system. California has used similar programs; what has been the impact? Are there any lessons to be learned on the design of such schemes?
Do you have any particular learnings around First Nations organisations in California; how have they been able to contribute to the delivery of housing in their communities?
We thank Dr Wiener for taking time to answer these questions ahead of the GGHC.
To see our full program, click here.