California’s cap and trade funds to support affordable, sustainable housing 

California has just announced $122 million in grant money to find affordable housing projects throughout the state. The money comes from the state’s cap and trade fund, which come from fees payed by corporations to offset their environmental impact. All approved projects will be eco-friendly, located near transit, and include a community-based component.

This is the first year California has opened up cap and trade money for housing, and is a wonderful development for the state. Governor Brown closed the state’s redevelopment agencies a few years ago, leaving affordable housing developers without any secure form of state funding. The cap and trade grant program will almost quadruple in size next year (increasing to approximately $400,000, or about half of the total cap and trade revenue), bringing more opportunity to lower-income workers throughout California.

As I have written before, California has one of the worst affordable housing crises in the country, with most apartments priced out of reach for low-wage workers. I am pleased local officials have decided to invest in transit-proximal and environmentally sustainable developments. Costs will be minimized by lower electric loads and workers will spend less money and time commuting to work, lowering the overall costs of the units and increasing the quality of life for residents. If the apartments live up to their potential, this may be the beginning of a positive, sustainable trend in affordable housing. 

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